Asia

Indonesia quake stirs grim memories for tsunami survivors

An aerial view shows rescuers using heavy machinery to search for victims in the ruins of a market that collapsed in Wednesday's earthquake in Meureudu, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Humanitarian organizations descended on Indonesia's Aceh province Thursday as the local disaster agency called for urgent food supplies and officials raced to assess the full extent of damage from an earthquake that killed more than 100 people. (AP Photo)

An aerial view shows rescuers using heavy machinery to search for victims in the ruins of a market that collapsed in Wednesday's earthquake in Meureudu, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Humanitarian organizations descended on Indonesia's Aceh province Thursday as the local disaster agency called for urgent food supplies and officials raced to assess the full extent of damage from an earthquake that killed more than 100 people. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

Now, thousands of people in Indonesia's Aceh province have two horrifying stories to tell.

Living through the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 100,000 in Aceh made Wednesday's magnitude 6.5 quake all the more terrifying. There was no tsunami this time but more than 100 deaths, hundreds of buildings destroyed and thousands of people made homeless.

Here are stories from people who survived both natural disasters:

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Mukhtar Raniri, 31, said he has lived through several deadly earthquakes in Aceh, including 2004's magnitude 9.1 quake and tsunami.

"I was a university student in Banda Aceh when the tsunami washed away our house in 2004," he said, recalling how the fearsome waters scattered members of his family. "I tried to hold my 9-year-old brother tightly, but debris in the water struck us, we were drowning and then he was gone."

Raniri said the quake on Wednesday jolted his house badly. He and his wife and son took cover under the dining table as belongings crashed down around them and a wall cracked.

"We ran out and found the roads full of panicked people, many shouting, 'Water is coming! Water is coming!" like what happened in 2004, others chanting the verses of the Quran, asking God's protection, and women and children crying," he said. "We ran and ran like the waters were behind us."

Raniri said he and his family are now sheltering along with about 800 other people at a mosque two kilometers from the hard-hit town of Meureudu.

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Darma Yanti, 28, ran a garment-making business with her husband at a now-flattened market in Meureudu town. She believes it's a miracle she survived both Wednesday's earthquake and the 2004 tsunami.

Yanti and her husband, who have a 10-month-old baby, were awakened by a strong jolt that was quickly followed by a surround-sound boom as their building swayed. Only later did she realize the explosion-like sound was an adjacent row of 20 shop houses collapsing.

"My husband picked up our baby and with a flashlight from a mobile phone we got downstairs," she said. "I heard people shouting from the debris: Men, women, children," Yanti said, sobbing. "Oh my God, I know some of them well. They are my friends, my neighbors, but I can't do anything to help them. My husband dragged me away."

They ran barefoot without stopping even as debris cut into the soles of their feet, she said.

"I asked God to protect us. It was like 2004, when me and my whole family ran like that, when waters came to our village. I survived with all my family members when a wall of water rushed after us. And God, once again, saved me and my family."

They're now staying with her husband's parents.

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Siti Rukiah was 39 when the 2004 tsunami struck her seaside village on Aceh's eastern coast. The tsunami hit the west coast of Sumatra first and then high waves swept past the island's northern tip and along the east to Lhokseumawe.

"I cannot forget how the tsunami took away my brother and neighbors to the sea," said Rukiah, a mother of four who with 100 others from her village, Pante Raja, sought shelter Wednesday at a nearby mosque on higher ground.

The quake was so powerful she had to grab onto a table to keep from falling. She felt sure a tsunami would come.

"I'm really scared about a tsunami," said Rukiah. She said she didn't want to return home "not only because my house is damaged, but I am still afraid an aftershock could cause a tsunami."

Another villager, Ahmad Salman, said he fled to the same mosque where his family took shelter in 2004.

"Even after 12 years, it feels like yesterday the tsunami washed away my house," he said.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.