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Death Toll Rises In Indonesia

Indonesia's official death toll from Sumatra's devastating earthquake climbed to 103 Tuesday, as the search for victims intensified despite rumbling aftershocks that kept traumatized survivors outdoors.

The government emergency task force said 64 bodies had been recovered from rubble in Bengkulu town on Sumatra's southwest coast. The rest were killed in other areas.

Many were crushed as they slept when their poorly built homes caved in. The quake cut off communications and electricity, and closed the area's main airport.

Police feared the number of casualties could rise even further once authorities reach remote areas, including a tiny island closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, which struck on Sunday night.

Tens of thousands of people spent Monday night outdoors, fearing another quake would be on the way. More than 300 aftershocks have been recorded since the initial quake hit.

"We're too scared to go indoors again. What can we do now? Everything has gone," said Mohair Mayhem, whose house was reduced to a pile of rubble.

More than 100 badly injured patients some two or three to a bed were being treated in the parking lot of the devastated Young General Hospital. Doctors performed emergency operations under plastic sheeting. Twelve patients had died from quake-inflicted injuries.

Like much of the town, the hospital's badly cracked walls and caved-in roof was testament to the severity of the temblor, which was centered beneath the Indian Ocean, only 60 miles to the west.

"We got all patients and staff out immediately after the quake. It's unsafe inside," said physician Buddy Mulana. "We are finding things very difficult. We have only two days supply of medicines left."

Blood supplies also were running low and medical equipment was lost under the debris.

Hundreds of homes in Bengkulu were damaged or destroyed, police and witnesses said. Major buildings had cracked walls. Smaller structures collapsed.

"The walls of my house fell in. I pulled my three boys from the rubble. They are hurt, but they are alive, thank God," said one patient, who goes by the single name of Suharto.

Police said teams of rescuers, including police and soldiers along with local people, had stepped up search efforts. Two navy ships were bringing emergency supplies. Rescue personnel were being deployed from other parts of Indonesia, and some foreign countries had offered assistance.

Telephone services and roads in some parts of the region remained cut Tuesday.

The greatest fears center around tiny Enggano island, about 125 miles southeast of Bengkulu town and closest to the quake's epicenter. Initial reports said as much as 90 percent of its buildings were flattened.

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia. Even so, Sunday night's tremor was one of the most powerful recorded here in several years.

The quake was felt across much of western half of the archipelago nationPeople in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, more than 310 miles to the southeast, as well as in the neighboring island state of Singapore fled their apartments after high-rise buildings swayed.

The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado, said the quake's epicenter was about 20 miles beneath the floor of the Indian Ocean -- very shallow in geological terms.

But there was no report of a tsunami, a massive wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption. In December 1992, a magnitude 7 earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed about 2,500 people on the southeastern island of Flores.

The U.S. agency put the strength of Sunday's quake at 7.9. The Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysical Service said it measured 7.3.

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