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Indonesia - Java Earthquake of 27 May 2006
(updated 31 May 2006)

Indonesia - Java Earthquake of 27 May 2006 (updated 31 May 2006)

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Indonesia - Java Earthquake of 27 May 2006 (updated 31 May 2006)
May 27, 2006
A powerful earthquake struck Indonesia's central province of Java early Saturday morning at 0554 Hrs local time (26 May 2254 Hrs GMT), flattening buildings and killing over 4900 people.

An official at Jakarta's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said the earthquake's epicentre was in the Indian Ocean, about 37 kilometres south of Yogyakarta, about 450 kilometres south-east of Jakarta. It occurred about 33 kilometres beneath the seabed.

The US Geological Survey said the Richter scale magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck 25 kilometres south-southwest of the city of Yogyakarta, about 440 kilometres east-southeast of Jakarta and 80 kilometres south of Mount Merapi and 17.1 kilometres beneath the seabed.

It was the latest of a series of earthquake in recent days to jolt Indonesia, located on the so-called Pacific 'Ring of Fire,' where volcanoes and earthquake are commonplace.

To the north of the quake zone, the Mount Merapi volcano continued to belch heat clouds and send trails of lava running down its slopes, heightening fears of an eruption.

The quake was Indonesia's third major disaster in 18 months, following the 26 Dec 2004 tsunami that killed 168 000 in Sumatra and the 28 March 2005 quake that killed more than 600 people in Nias.

In the chaos that followed the quake, rumors of an impending tsunami sent thousands of people fleeing to higher ground in cars and motorbikes.

Yogyakarta is around 30 kilometres from the seashore and quakes of 6.2 magnitudes rarely, if ever, trigger destructive tsunami.

Update 29th May 2006
Survivors of an earthquake at Yogyakarta that killed at least 4,900 people on Indonesia's island of Java have spent a second night outdoors. Rain has forced some to return to the rubble of their homes.

Many bodies are still thought to be trapped under debris and rescuers say the odds of finding survivors are slim. An aid operation is gathering speed in the worst-hit areas around Yogyakarta, where 20,000 people are said to have been hurt and 200,000 left homeless.

Officials at Indonesia's social affairs ministry said 4,983 people were known to have died, while other reports put the death toll at more than 5,100.

Update 31st May 2006
Java earthquake toll passes 5,800
The scale of the disaster caused by Saturday's 6.2-magnitude temblor on Indonesia's main island of Central Java became clearer as the death toll rose to 5 846, the social affairs ministry said on Wednesday.

Nearly 49 000 homes were destroyed and more than 118 000 others damaged, it said. Hope of finding anyone still alive in the wreckage has been all but abandoned.

As Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono left the quake zone following a four-day tour, Indonesian officials defended the relief operation.

"The situation is getting better and better, especially in the area of distribution," said Major General Bambang Darmono, the coordinating officer on the ground for the national disaster-management agency.

"Every area has been reached by the distribution effort," he said. "I know there are a lot of people complaining but it doesn't mean there is no activity. "We are still in an emergency phase, so we are still continuing with our efforts -- delivering food, and also evacuating people if there are victims in the area."

International humanitarian aid and foreign medical teams are pouring into the disaster zone, with relief efforts facilitated by cool, dry weather overnight.

Large quantities of aid started flowing into affected areas, and the UN spoke of "enormous progress" being made.

But many survivors spent a fourth night without shelter or supplies, as congested roads hampered access to more remote areas.

Donations from around the world have continued to arrive as the relief operation, involving at least 22 countries, gathered pace.

The aid supplies, brought in by a succession of planes landing at Yogyakarta's airport, were unloaded into warehouses before being trucked south.

The UN has set up a co-ordination centre close to the airport to bring order to the flow of goods.

More international medical teams have flown in to help treat the injured, including personnel from the US, Japan and a 40-strong team and five tonnes of medical supplies from China.

A Singaporean field hospital has been treating patients, and fears of a health crisis appear to be receding, aid workers say.

The UN's top humanitarian co-ordinator, Jan Egeland, said the aid effort had made "enormous progress". He said, "The most critical need is medical assistance and after that it's water and sanitation, and third is emergency shelter".

The Asian Development Bank has promised $60m (£32m) in aid and loans to help the affected region.

The Indonesian government has pledged an initial 12kg of rice per family, and 200,000 rupiah ($21) for each survivor to cover clothing and household goods, and compensation for damaged houses.

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