(1st Lead Writethru) Death toll in Indonesia earthquake climbs to over 97, more than 600 injured

At least 97 people have been killed and over 600 others suffered from wounds after a powerful and shallow underland quake hit western Indonesia's Aceh province earlier Wednesday, top military officer and disaster relief officials said.

"We have found several bodies since hours ago, so that the total casualty rises to 97 now," Military Commander for Iskandar Muda Command Maj. General Tatang Sulaiman told Xinhua by phone from Pidie Jaya district, the hardest hit area.

The 6.4 magnitude quake had left 613 people injured and more than 200 houses, shop buildings, school buildings, mosques and buildings damaged, Heni Nurmaini, press officer for emergency affairs at the provincial disaster agency told Xinhua by phone.

Most of the casualties and injured persons were found in Pidie Jaya district, she said.

Search and rescue operation is underway now, involving soldiers, police personnel, those from local disaster management agency, local search and rescue office and volunteers, General Tatang said.

"We dispatched around 1050 military personnel for this operation, and about 900 personnel from police, disaster agency and search and rescue office are also deployed," the general revealed.

Scores of heavy machinery equipment has been deployed to help the evacuation, said Apriadi, head of emergency unit at disaster agency in Pidie Jaya district.

Dozens of people are still trapped underneath the debris, he told Xinhua by phone.

The quake jolted at 05:03 a.m. Jakarta time Wednesday (2203 GMT Tuesday) with epicenter at 18 km northeast Pidie Jaya district and depth at 10 km under land, an official of the meteorology and geophysics agency told Xinhua.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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