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Indonesia: Some villagers begin returning home after 3 days of violent earthquakes

    PADANG, Indonesia — Some villagers in western Indonesia returned home Saturday, three days after a deadly earthquake jolted the region and generated a powerful string of aftershocks and a tsunami.
    Many of those affected have been camping out on high ground away from the ocean. But with electricity back on in most places and no major aftershocks felt on Saturday, some were beginning to reopen shops and clean up debris around their homes.
    Many residents remain jittery, however, shaken by the more than 60 strong aftershocks that followed the 8.4-magnitude temblor which hit Indonesia on Wednesday, causing a 10-foot-high tsunami.
    The death toll in the quakes climbed to at least 17 people. At least 88 were injured. Aid was making its way to hard-hit areas, though some residents claimed it was slow in coming.
    With roads damaged and communication cut, getting accurate casualty figures was a challenge. Authorities raised the death toll after information came in from remote regions, said Rustam Pakaya, the chief of Health Crisis Center.
    Many people said a public awareness campaign launched after the massive 2004 earthquake that sparked the tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen Indian Ocean nations paid off. Warnings issued over mosque speakers and training provided by local officials on how to escape a disaster played a big role.
    In some areas, however, electricity blackouts prevented some sirens from going off.
    Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, with a population of 235 million people, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the ‘‘Ring of Fire,’’ an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
    ———
    Associated Press writer Zakki Hakim contributed to this report from Bengkulu.

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