27 May 2006

Jogja's Earth Quake

Indonesian Quake Kills Thousands
By Ellen Nakashima and Fred BarbashWashington Post Staff WritersSaturday, May 27, 2006; 8:33 AM
SEMARANG, Indonesia, May 27 -- A powerful earthquake shook a densely populated region of the Indonesian island of Java Saturday morning, killing a thousand people or more according to early estimates by officials, and leaving many tens of thousands homeless.
The epicenter of the magnitude 6.2 quake was about 15 miles southwest of Yogyakarta, a city of half a million, and about 15 miles south of Semerang, a city of over a million.

Victims are treated outside a hospital after a strong earthquake in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia, Saturday, May 27, 2006. A powerful earthquake rocked Indonesia's Central Java province early Saturday, flattening buildings and killing at least 211 people, hospitals and officials said. Scores of other people were injured. (AP Photo/Sinar Harapan, Yuyuk Sugarman) (Sinar Harapan, Yuyuk Sugarman - AP)
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While officials could not assemble reliable numbers for dead and injured yet, all put the number of dead at no less than 1,000.
Yuni Naraini, of the Indonesia's Social Affairs Ministry, estimated the death toll at over 2,000. Other local officials reached by phone and speaking on the radio also spoke of thousands of dead.
Idham Sanawi, the Mayor of Bantul, just south of Yogyakarta, said on the radio that there were 2,000 dead in his town alone and that they had already buried 400 people in mass graves. He said 70 percent of the houses in the city were damaged and uninhabitable and that more than 100,000 people were moving into refugee camps.
"We need medicine. We need tents. We need paramedics," he said.
Yogyakarta provincial secretary Bambang Susanto Prihardi, speaking on Elshinta news radio, gave an area-by-area breakdown of casualties totaling 1,555, the Reuters news agency reported.
Other government and hospital officials said earlier that many people remained buried or trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, while more deaths might be going unreported by families keeping and burying the bodies, wire services said.
The quake struck at about 6:30 a.m. Yogyakarta time Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Witnesses reported repeated tremors, some lasting a full minute.
Reteno, a paramedic in a hospital near Yogyakarta, said by phone that he thought nearby Mount Merapi, a volcano that has been on top alert for a major eruption this month, was erupting when the shaking began, causing ceiling tiles to drop to the floor in his home and knocking over motorbikes parked on the street.
A vulcanologist in Yogyakarta told wire services that the quake was not caused by the volcano, but Merapi's activity increased after the shock.
"After the earthquake there were more clouds coming out of the crater," Subandrio, head of the Merapi section at the Centre for Vulcanological Research and Technology Department, told Reuters.