Friday, May 26, 2006

Strong earthquake hits Indonesia - BBC News Online

A strong earthquake has struck the Indonesian island of Java, leaving several people dead and scores injured, witnesses and hospital staff have said.

The quake, measured at 6.2, flattened buildings in a densely-populated area near the city of Yogyakarta on the southern coast of the island of Java.

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

Local radio said several hospitals were packed with people seeking treatment.

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

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 is Indonesia's ancient royal capital.

"We have no figure yet, but yes, there are several people reported killed and hundreds of injured. We are still receiving reports from the various subdistricts," Subiyakto, an officer with Yogyakarta province's police, told the AFP news agency.

A witness told the Associated Press news agency he had seen three bodies under the rubble of two houses.

"We have at least five people dead, but it could be more," Wahab, a nurse at Muhammadiyah hospital, told Reuters news agency by telephone.

Indonesia is in a zone prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

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

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Courtesy Shanghai Daily, May 16, 2006. (via Google.com)

Shortly before the quake, the nearby Mount Merapi volcano sent out a cloud of hot gas and ash. It was not immediately clear if the volcanic activity and the earthquake were linked.

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