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Strong Indonesia Quake Kills Nearly 2,000  

by on Saturday, 27 May 2006No Comment | 685 views

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia May 27, 2006 (AP)— A powerful earthquake flattened homes and buildings in central Indonesia early Saturday, killing nearly 2,000 people and injuring thousands more in the country’s worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami.

The magnitude 6.2 quake struck near the ancient city of Yogyakarta 250 miles east of the capital, Jakarta, around dawn as many people slept, causing death and damage in several nearby towns.

TV footage showed damaged hotels and government buildings, and several collapsed buildings. Roads and bridges were destroyed, hindering efforts to get the wounded to hospitals. Some phone lines also were cut.

“It felt really powerful, and the whole building shook,” said Narman, a receptionist at a hotel in Yogyakarta. “Everyone ran from their rooms.”

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the army to help evacuate victims, as panicked residents ran into the smoldering streets, many clutching young children. He said he would head to the disaster zone in Central Java province later Saturday.

Nine hours after the quake struck, the number of dead stood at 1,987, said Sopar Djaya, an official in the Social Affairs Ministry’s task force office, with two thirds of the fatalities in the devastated district of Bantul.

“The numbers just keep rising,” said Arifin Muhadi of the Indonesian Red Cross, adding that nearly 2,900 people were hurt in the disaster.

Muhadi’s death toll stood at around 1,400, but he said his agency had not been able to contact authorities in some of the hard hit areas.

In the chaos that followed the quake, rumors of an impending tsunami sent thousands of people on Java fleeing to higher ground in cars and motorbikes. But Japan’s Meteorological Agency said there was no danger of a killer wave.

The quake also triggered heightened activity in nearby Mount Merapi volcano, which has been spewing out clouds of hot ash, gas and lava for several weeks, a scientist said.

Regional hospitals put out an appeal for assistance.

“Please tell the central government to send help, we need help here,” said Kusmarwanto of Bantul Muhammadiyah Hospital, the closest hospital to the quake’s epicenter.

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