Jokowi to visit earthquake site as death toll continues to rise
JAKARTA, Indonesia – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is expected to head to Pidie Jaya, Aceh on Thursday, December 8, the site of the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the province Wednesday. Jokowi will check on conditions in the province following the quake that killed at least 97.
Jokowi, who is currently in Bali to promote the government's tax amnesty and to attend a democracy forum, says he does not want his visit to interrupt search and rescue efforts. Jokowi's chief of staff Teten Masduki as well as other ministers are currently on site to monitor conditions.
"As every hour passes, the number of victims continues to grow. Aid has already been dispatched this afternoon," said Jokowi.
Head of Data Information and Public Relations of the National Disaster Management Agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said it has declaerd a state of emergency until December 20th for the evacuation and the search for earthquake victims in Aceh.
The quake struck Pidie Jaya district at dawn as many in the mainly Muslim region on Sumatra island were preparing for morning prayers.
The death toll has steadily climbed as rescue crews search, often by hand, through the homes, mosques and shops reduced to ruins.
The earlier figure of 52 dead was revised up significantly by the Indonesian military, which has taken over responsibility for the search and rescue operation.
"So far 97 people have been killed and the number keeps growing," Aceh military chief Tatang Sulaiman told AFP. – Rappler.com