Quake, Aftershocks Hit South Asia Hard

3-29-05 – JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) The Indonesian government says emergency workers have found 330 bodies on an island hit hard by yesterday's eight-point-seven magnitude earthquake.

Crews have been going through the rubble on the island of Nias where the quake shattered homes and destroyed other buildings.

One official says the government expects to find many more bodies in the debris and that the final number of dead could climb to two-thousand. He says that estimate is based on an assessment of damage to buildings and not bodies counted.

The quake triggered panic in the streets and warnings of a possible tsunami, like the one that killed more than 174-thousand people last year.

Meanwhile, the aftershocks continue. Experts in Hong Kong say the latest aftershock off Indonesia was magnitude five-point-eight.

Seismologists say the latest quake was centered a couple hundred miles off Banda Aceh. The observatory recorded another aftershock in roughly the same area earlier today.

Leaders from Australia, Japan and Singapore are preparing to resend troops to Indonesia and US officials are promising a quick response.

A State Department spokesman says they are putting themselves "in battle mode to be in a position where we can know what's going on and act appropriately if and when it's necessary."

He also says officials are applying what they learned following the December tragedy.