December 9, 2016 / 8:03 AM / 9 months ago

Rescue operations near end in Indonesia's quake-stricken Aceh

A man retrieves fans from a collapsed shop following a strong earthquake in Meureudu, Pidie Jaya, Aceh province, Indonesia December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

PIDIE JAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesian officials said on Friday search and rescue operations were nearing an end three days after a powerful earthquake hit the northern province of Aceh, killing 100 people and leaving thousands homeless.

Wednesday’s 6.5 magnitude earthquake, which toppled dozens of buildings and injured hundreds of people, was the worst disaster to hit the region since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

“We believe we have found 99 percent of the victims,” said Sutopo Nugroho, spokesman of the national disaster management agency.

The agency revised the death toll down to 100 from 102.

Hundreds of people in Aceh’s Pidie Jaya regency held Friday prayers outside mosques that had been reduced to rubble.

A Muslim man walks across a carpet before Friday prayers at Jami Quba mosque which collapsed during this week's earthquake in Pidie Jaya, Aceh province, Indonesia December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Many residents of the town of 140,000 have been sleeping in shelters and relief workers have been handing out food, water, and blankets.

President Joko Widodo visited survivors, including many getting treatment for broken bones in hospitals and tent clinics.

The province of Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, has declared a two-week state of emergency and the central government has pledged aid for recovery efforts.

A Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami killed more than 120,000 people in Aceh.

In all, the 2004 tsunami killed 226,000 people along Indian Ocean shorelines.

Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel

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