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27 May 2006Indonesia
More than 100 people were killed and hundreds injured when an earthquake shook the area around Indonesia’s ancient royal city and tourist centre Yogyakarta today, hospital staff said. Yogyakarta is on Indonesia’s main island of Java and near Mount Merapi, a volcano that has been on top alert for a major eruption this month. A vulcanologist in Yogyakarta said the quake was tectonic and not caused by the volcano, but the quake’s impact could increase Merapi’s activity. The epicentre of the quake, which happened just before 0600, local time, had a magnitude of 6.2, according to the US Geological Survey, was offshore. Jakarta earthquake centre official Fauzi said it did not cause a tsunami. Yogyakarta is about 25 km north of the Indian Ocean coast and 440 km east of Jakarta. “Unrtil 1030 hrs, 56 people were recorded killed at Bethesda (hospital)” in Yogyakarta, Subandi, an official at the hospital’s morgue, said. Most of the dead had suffered head injuries and broken bones from collapsing buildings. Officials at three other hospitals in and around Yogyakarta had earlier given figures for the dead totalling 51. Witnesses said hundreds of houses had collapsed in the quake. Office and government buildings were also in ruins. Hospital patients had been moved outside due to fears of aftershocks. Jakarta earthquake centre official Fauzi put the quake’s strength at 5.8 and said the epicentre was in the sea about 50 km south of Yogyakarta at a depth of 33 km. There was widespread panic in Bantul, where at least 10 people were killed and hundreds hurt, and a desperate need for more doctors and nurses to treat the injured, said Kardi, the information officer for the hospital there. A witness in Yogyakarta said many people there had fled their homes while thousands of others from areas near the city were trying to get into it to take refuge, many fearing a tsunami. One Yogyakarta resident, Nani Kasidjo, said: “I was having a morning walk and suddenly I felt dizzy and then people ran out of their houses screaming ‘Earthquake!”’ Yogyakarta’s airport was closed due to damage to the runway, Hatta Rajasa, transportation minister, told Elshinta news radio. Roads leading to the coast were cracked and power was off in some areas, witnesses said. Telephone communication was erratic. Yogyakarta’s royal palaces and the nearby Borobudur temple complex are prime attractions for domestic and foreign tourists, and many foreigners study the Indonesian language at schools in the city which offer intensive courses.
28 May 2006
A powerful earthquake destroyed entire towns and villages in central Indonesia yesterday, killing more than 3,000 people, injuring thousands and sparking a tsunami scare which sowed mass panic. The 6.2 magnitude quake struck at dawn near the densely-populated ancient city of Yogyakarta on the main island of Java, rattling an area that had been on edge for weeks amid fears that nearby Mount Merapi volcano would erupt. Thousands of families fled their homes in panic as buildings shuddered and collapsed, many of them running for higher ground amid false rumours of a tsunami like the one that devastated the country in December 2004. Many could not escape and were buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings or struck by flying rocks and debris as the quake devastated towns and villages across the south of the island. One of the worst-hit areas was the Bantul district south of Yogyakarta, which was flattened. ‘’There is only one house remaining standing here, that of the head of the hamlet, but even that is not safe any more as the walls are cracked,’’ said Ngadiyo, 63, crouching in front of the rubble of his house in central Bantul. ‘’I have never gone through an earthquake this strong during my life,’’ said his brother, Jodi Riwono, 46, who was trapped unconscious under rubble before being rescued by a grandson. An official at the ministry’s disaster relief centre in Jakarta, Ginta, said at least 3,000 were killed, and more than 2,500 people seriously injured. Thousands were also left homeless, with more than 3,800 houses destroyed in Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces, Ginta said. Emergency rescue and medical crews rushed to the worst-hit areas as officials said the death toll may rise. Heru Nugroho, spokesman for the state-run Sardjito hospital in Yogyakarta, said 1,500 victims were being treated, many of them in the hallways. People of all ages with broken arms and legs and bruised faces lay out on tiled floors covered in blood waiting for attention. Bodies were covered with bed sheets. Aid agencies were sending tents and food to the area to help those left homeless, while an appeal for blood donors was launched. Rescue workers and survivors pulled hundreds of bodies hourly from the rubble. The earthquake forced the closure of Adisucipto airport in Yogyakarta, Detikcom news portal said, with buildings damaged and cracks in the runway. Flights have been diverted to the nearby city of Solo. Meteorologists said the quake measured 5.9 on the Richter scale, but both US and Hong Kong monitors registered it at 6.2. Seismologists said the quake would not increase the likelihood of an eruption at Merapi. The tsunami scare started when Yogyakarta province police chief Bambang Hari Sampurnojati told local radio that the earthquake was to be followed by tidal waves. ‘’We panicked when we heard that there was a tsunami. We were ready to flee,’’ Yogyakarta resident Clemon Cilik told the state Antara news agency. As several aftershocks shook the region, many residents were afraid to return home, wandering dazed and confused in the streets, many in tears. More than 20,000 residents living in the shadow of Mount Merapi are staying in emergency shelters after being evacuated from the slopes. Unicef spokesman John Budd in Jakarta said it had been geared up for relief operations in the event of an eruption, so it already had response teams in the area.
29 May 2006
Rescue workers dug more bodies from rubble Sunday, a day after a powerful earthquake flattened thousands of houses in Indonesia’s densely populated Java island, bringing the death toll over 4,600, with tens of thousands left homeless. Rain began falling again Sunday night, adding to the distress of tens of thousands of frightened survivors across the disaster area who spent Saturday night in the rainy, darkness under emergency plastic tents on streets, in rice fields and in backyards, as well as at graveyards, for fear of aftershocks. Many of them living without tents. “We have opted to stay overnight outside. We’re scared of more quakes, and we will remain outside until the situation is said to be safe for us to return inside,” said a traumatized Winarso, a farmer from the hardest-hit region of Bantul. “We’re in extreme need of medicines and proper tents because these tents aren’t water-proof, they leak when it rains,” said Achmad Zauhari, another survivor and head of Dukuh village. “Ninety per cent of homes here have been totally destroyed. Many of the survivors have to live without tents on roadsides or open fields,” he said. Many survivors were digging through their devastated homes looking for food, clothes and other essential belongings, while military soldiers removed more bodies, some of them hit by collapsed walls. Officials at the social affairs ministry’s disaster relief centre confirmed the death toll Sunday evening was 4,611, with over 3,300 injured. “The death toll continues rising. Rescue operation are continuing as there are still some people reportedly trapped beneath the debris,” said Hendro, an official at the ministry of social affairs’ disaster relief centre. The 6.2-magnitude quake struck at 5:53 a.m. Saturday (2253 GMT Friday), collapsing thousands of homes in Yogyakarta and neighbouring districts. It was the largest tremor to jolt Indonesia since the one that sparked the deadly Asian tsunami in December 2004. A massive 9.0-magnitude tremor triggered that tsunami, which devastated the coastal areas of Aceh on the northern end of Sumatra, leaving some 168,000 people dead or missing in the province. In the town of Bantul, the worst-hit region after Saturday’s quake, more than 2,300 people were killed and around 2,000 others injured. Up to 80 per cent of homes in the town were destroyed. “At this stage, we’re in bad need of many additional tents to protect thousands of survivors from rain and sunshine. Many of the survivors are living under poor plastic tents put up by the people themselves,” said Agus, an official at the disaster command post. A similar request for more tents came from Klaten district in Central Java, where tens of thousands of homeless people are staying in open fields and on roadsides with makeshift plastic tents, officials said. More paramedics and rescue workers poured into the affected region to help existing personnel already on the ground, but thousands of survivors in Bantul complained of having received no assistance. Officials said, in addition to plastic tents, blankets, sleeping sheets, drinking water, and food supplies, in particular instant food, were very essential for the quake victims as many have not eaten since the quake struck on Saturday morning. Medical teams have combed the affected region in an attempt to assist the injured, many of whom sustained bone fractures. Emergency field hospitals were also being set up in Bantul and Klaten district in Central Java. Hundreds of wounded people were lying on plastic sheets, straw mats and even newspapers outside the overcrowded hospitals, some hooked to intravenous drips dangling from trees. “Up to 2,000 injured people have been treated at Dr Sardjito Hospital. This is extreme overload,” Bambang Susanto, secretary of the Yogyakarta region, told Elshinta private radio. “We are short of surgeons and there are still so many critically injured people here,” Susanto said as more injured persons keep coming to the hospital. Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X ordered some of the wounded survivors to be sent for treatment out of the city, including to the Indonesian capital Jakarta, as all hospitals in the quake-hit area were overwhelmed and no longer able to treat new arrivals. Saturday’s quake struck close to Mount Merapi volcano, sparking an avalanche and large burst of hot clouds and debris 3.5 kilometres down the mountain’s western flank. Experts have said the quake had no direct links with Merapi’s rising activity. The tremor could either trigger a larger eruption, particularly with the collapse of the lava dome, or make the crater less active. While the quake did not affect the famed Borobudur Buddhist temple one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist spots - it did cause damage to nearby Prabanan, a spectacular Hindu temple in the south-east, officials said. The airport of Yogyakarta, which was shut down after the quake cracked the runway and heavily damaged the waiting longue, was reopened Sunday afternoon, but only for aircraft carrying emergency aid and other assistance.
29 May 2006
Aid was trickling in today for survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people on Indonesia’s Java island and left tens of thousands of homeless foraging for food and shelter. Many survivors who were injured or whose homes were destroyed by the quake spent last night in the open on the grounds of hospitals and mosques or in makeshift shelters beside the rubble of their houses. The 6.3 magnitude quake’s official death toll reached 5,136. The tremor early on Saturday (May 27) was centred just off the Indian Ocean coast near Yogyakarta, the former Javanese royal capital. Government figures put the number of injured at 2,155 but the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said there were 20,000 injured and more than 130,000 homeless. Government and private aid agencies agree shelter in the form of tents is a top aid priority, along with clean water supplies. Yogyakarta’s provincial secretary, Bambang Susanto Priyohadi, said the pace of aid needed to be stepped up. “The aid has come since last night from the UN but when I checked this morning, the amount is very minimal,” he said. “For such a large number of victims, we at least need 5,000 tents. At the moment we only have less than 100.” Priyohadi said evacuating the dead was another priority. “It has been two days and those bodies probably have decomposed and if we do not move them away from the pockets of population, they could turn into sources of disease.” Up to 35,000 homes and buildings in and around Yogyakarta were reduced to rubble. Although the aid was arriving slower than some on the ground wished, the international community has rallied to help, pledging tens of millions of dollars and offering medical relief teams, disaster experts and emergency supplies. Clean water has been another priority need. Emergency supplies, consisting of health and hygiene kits for tens of thousands of people as well as water supply carriages, had reached the hardest-hit area of Bantul, John Budd, UNICEF spokesman in Jakarta, said. The World Food Programme said it has begun distributing 30 tonnes of vitamin enriched biscuits, sufficient to feed 20,000 people for seven days. After a cabinet meeting late yesterday, Vice President Jusuf Kalla put relief and rebuilding costs at around 1 trillion rupiah ($107 million) and said the government aimed to complete reconstruction within a year. Kalla said the quake had badly damaged power facilities and deprived tens of thousands of people of electricity. Authorities were struggling to deliver aid to a disaster zone that encompassed hundreds of square miles of verdant rice paddies, hills and mountains, and densely populated villages. Flights of supplies including body bags were coming into the airport of Yogyakarta.
30 May 2006
The death toll from Saturday’s (May 27) major earthquake on Indonesia’s Java island reached 5,427 as of this morning as international relief assistance began pouring into the devastated provinces. Data at the Social Affairs Ministry showed that of the dead victims, 3,310 were found in Bantul Regency of Yogyakarta Special Region. As the death toll keeps increasing, international assistance has started to pour into the affected areas. Presidential Spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said at least 34 countries have offered help. UNICEF’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Edouard Beigbeder said UNICEF has commenced tracing of separated children, but added that he anticipates that trauma will be the bigger issue.
31 May 2006
A press report, dated today, states: US Marines joined an international effort to deliver aid and medical care to nearly 650,000 Indonesians displaced by a devastating earthquake, as hopes faded of finding more survivors. Two US Marine cargo aircraft carrying a mobile field hospital landed yesterday in Yogyakarta, closest to the quake area in central Java, after cracks in the airport runway were patched. A disaster assistance response team from the US Agency for International Development is being readied and the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, which has extensive medical facilities, is en route to the area, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. The United States also increased its aid contribution to $5 million. The United Nations said at least 21 other countries have joined the effort to help those left homeless by the quake, which killed more than 5,800 people. An estimated 647,000 people were displaced by the quake, nearly a third of them homeless and the rest staying with relatives, said Bambang Priyohadi, a senior provincial government official. The government said today the temblor destroyed more than 135,000 homes, reducing them to piles of bricks, tiles and wood in less than a minute. Priyohadi based the displaced figure on the number of homes destroyed and a family index of 4.8 people per house. The main hospital in hardest-hit Bantul district was still overwhelmed, with 400 patients for just over 100 beds, and doctors complained of a lack of supplies. “We are short of splints, gauze, even beds,” said Dr. Hidayat, the hospital’s earthquake emergency coordinator, adding that 90 percent of the victims had bone fractures. But conditions improved at several other hospitals, where parking lots and hallways that had been filled with hundreds of victims in the days after the quake were clear, with most patients now being treated in beds. Workers removed a tent outside Yogyakarta’s largest hospital, Sardjito, that had been used to shelter the injured. The government’s Social Affairs Ministry said the official death toll rose today to 5,846. Most survivors were still living in improvised shacks or group shelters erected in rice fields. Groups of families cooked together, each contributing scavenged food. Despite government promises of aid, shortages of food and fresh water remained a pressing concern, and thousands of people used cardboard boxes to beg for cash and supplies from passing drivers. The head of a Malaysia search and rescue team said hope had faded of finding more survivors or bodies, and his group had turned to clearing rubble from streets instead. A 44-member team of Chinese doctors, search and rescue workers and seismologists also arrived with five tons of supplies, including a field hospital, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported. Thailand said it would send 48 military medical personnel, medicine and equipment. Teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Norway and other nations already are working in the area. The Asian Development Bank announced a total of $60 million in grants and low interest loans to rebuild the earthquake zone.
3 June 2006
Tens of thousands of people who survived Indonesia’s killer earthquake ran out of their makeshift tent homes as fresh tremors overnight spread fear across the region. Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency told Reuters today that it had recorded several aftershocks of magnitude 4, each lasting about 30 seconds. A 6.3 magnitude quake struck Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces last Saturday (May 27), killing over 6,200 people and flattening over 100,000 houses. Many in the region are now living in flimsy shelters in front of the piles of rubble that used to be their homes. The government’s official quake death toll remains at 6,234. The social ministry’s disaster task force has also said 33,231 people had serious injuries and 12,917 people had minor injuries.
5 June 2006
The 6.3-magnitude quake that struck central Java island on May 27, killed at least 5,857 people. The government revised its death toll downward from more than 6,200 after determining that some victims had been counted twice and others initially believed dead were found alive. The Indonesian government stepped up relief efforts for quake victims, sending some 200 truckloads of rice to hard-hit areas to help the more than half million people left homeless. The quake damaged or destroyed more than 130,000 homes and at least 835 schools, the U.N. children’s agency and government officials said. But today, at least 10 damaged schools held end-of-year exams for eighth-grade students in tents, the agency said. About a third of the estimated 647,000 people displaced by the disaster are living in makeshift shelters, often just plastic tarps, with no toilets or running water, surviving on donated food. Aid agencies stepped up supplies of clean water and latrines but warned that unsanitary conditions could lead to a wave of diarrhea and skin diseases, as well as infections. Some 200 trucks, each filled with more than four tons of rice destined for the disaster zone, left the city square in the ancient royal capital of Yogyakarta. “The government will ensure everybody gets food,’’ Vice President Yusuf Kalla said, seeing off the trucks. He promised the government would provide each survivor with 22 pounds of rice monthly until houses are rebuilt. The international relief effort has picked up pace in recent days, although aid has yet to reach some remote areas. The United Nations has appealed for $103 million for recovery efforts over the next six months.