Saturday, May 27, 2006

Nearly 3,000 dead in Java quake - BBC News Online

People injured by the earthquake

More than 2,700 people have been killed and thousands more injured by a strong earthquake
that struck the Indonesian island of Java, officials have said.

The quake, measuring 6.2, flattened buildings in a densely-populated area south of the city of Yogyakarta, near the southern coast of Java.

Witnesses said people fled as their homes collapsed around them, after the quake struck early in the morning.

Electricity and communications across the city were also down, police said.

People were running out in panic in their bedclothes
Brook Weisman-Ross, Yogyakarta

At least 2,900 people have been injured,

and many more are still thought to be trapped under rubble and collapsed buildings.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the military to help evacuate victims, and plans to visit the area later on Saturday.

Yogyakarta's airport was closed. Local media said the runway had cracked and part of a roof had caved in.

Yogyakarta is near the Mount Merapi volcano, which threatened to erupt earlier this month, forcing thousands of people to be evacuated.

The earthquake is not thought to be caused by the volcano, but there are reports of heightened activity in its vicinity.

The quake left the dazed and injured scattered in the streets

Officials said that although the area affected was coastal there was no tsunami resulting from the quake.

The quake hit at 0554 local time (2253 GMT Friday), around 25km (15 miles) south of the city of Yogyakarta, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia's ancient royal capital and one of its biggest cities, is about 440km (275 miles) south-east of the capital, Jakarta.

"The earthquake was felt to be massive - larger than the locals here say they've felt in their lives," said Brook Weisman-Ross, regional disaster co-ordinator for Plan International children's charity in Java.

"I was shaken from my bed... As furniture was falling, concrete chunks started falling from my hotel room as people were running out in panic in their bedclothes," he told the BBC.

He said there was extensive damage across the city and that many of the smaller, older houses had collapsed.

But a wide swathe south of the city, in the Bantul and Kulonprogo regions, appears to be the worst hit.

The BBC's Orlando Guzman in Yogyakarta says every other house on the main road south of the city is either flattened or seriously damaged


The death toll rose steadily as hospitals around Yogyakarta reported a growing number of fatalities.

March 2005 - Magnitude 8.7 earthquake kills 1,300 people on the island of Nias off Sumatra
Dec 2004 - Indian Ocean tsunami, resulting from a 9.3 magnitude earthquake off northwest Sumatra, kills more than 200,000 people across the Indian Ocean region
June 2000 - Indian Ocean earthquake magnitude 7.9 kills more than 120 people in Bengkulu province, Sumatra
Feb 1996 - Magnitude 8.2 earthquake near Biak Island off Irian Jaya triggers tsunami leaving more than 100 dead
Dec 1992 - More than 2,000 people die in a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami on the island of Flores east of Bali

Local radio said there were not enough doctors to cope with the numbers of injured.

People were ferried to hospital in lorries and buses, or made the journey on foot, because of a shortage of ambulances.

Aftershocks have forced medical staff to move injured patients outside.

Our correspondent says people here, who have been leaving in fear of a volcanic eruption for weeks, are very much still on edge. Many are still afraid to go back to their houses.

Mosques, churches and hospitals have been housing people who have fled their homes.

"We're still afraid. We don't want to go home," said Hendra, one of hundreds of people who took refuge at Yogyakarta's Marganingsih Catholic Church.

Indonesia is in a zone known as the Pacific "ring of fire", which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

In December 2004, a huge earthquake off Indonesia's coast killed hundreds of thousands of people across the Indian Ocean by triggering a tsunami.

Located at borders of several tectonic plates
90% of the world's earthquakes occur along it
Also zone of frequent volcanic activity

BANTUL, Indonesia - A powerful earthquake flattened buildings in central Indonesia early Saturday, killing at least 2,900 people and injuring thousands more in the country's worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami.

The magnitude-6.2 quake struck at 5:54 a.m. near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, as most people were sleeping, causing death and damage in many nearby towns.

One geologist warned that the temblor could spark a large eruption at nearby Mount Merapi, one of the world's most active volcanoes.

Houses, hotels and government buildings collapsed, sending hysterical people running through the streets. Many roads and bridges were destroyed, hindering efforts to get taxis and pickup trucks filled with wounded to hospitals overflowing with patients.

Fourteen hours after the quake struck, the number of dead stood at 2,914, said Social Affairs Ministry official Sopar Jaya.


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