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U.S. in 'battle mode' following quake


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States is moving into "battle mode" following Monday's magnitude 8.7 earthquake in southern Asia, alerting U.S. posts in the region and contacting aid workers, a State Department spokesman said.

"We're applying what we've learned from the previous earthquake, so that we can be prepared to be responsive quickly and in a meaningful way," said spokesman Adam Ereli.

He said U.S. officials are "in battle mode to be in a position where we can act."

The United States has contacted aid organizations to try to get an assessment of the damage, particularly compared to the December 26 quake and tsunamis that left more than 300,000 people dead or missing.

"Our senior officials responsible for the regions concerned have met or have had a conference call today," Ereli said.

The effort is being coordinated by the assistant secretaries for East Asia, South Asia, Africa at the State Department in Washington and key U.S. officials in the region.

Navy officials said the only U.S. ship in the region is the hospital ship USNS Mercy, but it is about 2,000 miles from the epicenter of Monday's quake.

A number of Navy cargo ships are within reach of the region, but officials said so far none of the ships has been ordered to move.

A senior U.S. diplomat in Indonesia was "driving around" North Sumatra province to try to assess damage, State Department officials said.

The U.S. diplomat is the only official U.S. government representative living in North Sumatra, having been posted there in recent weeks, the officials said.

He was at home when the quake hit just after 11 p.m. local time. His house was not affected.

State Department officials said no Americans are believed to be in the area of North Sumatra, because the Indonesian government has restricted access there.

North Sumatra province is south of Aceh province, where the devastating tsunami struck in December.

Following the December tsunami, the United States pledged $950 million out of a worldwide total pledge of about $7 billion.

Some of the $950 million was earmarked to repay the various U.S. military services that participated in the rescue and recovery efforts.

CNN's Andrea Koppel and Elise Labott contributed to this report.


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