At least 3,002 people killed in Indonesia earthquake
The magnitude 6.2 quake struck the island of Java early morning near the ancient city of Yogyakarta.
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia - A powerful earthquake struck around Indonesia's royal city of Yogyakarta on Saturday, killing more than 3,000 people as houses and buildings collapsed near ancient heritage sites.
As darkness fell in the heartland of Indonesia's main island of Java, thousands prepared to spend the night outside ruined homes or in the grounds of mosques, churches and schools.
"It's pitch dark. We have to use candles and we are sitting outside now. We are too scared to sleep inside. The radio keeps saying there will be more quakes. We still feel the tremors," said Tjut Nariman, who lives on the outskirts of Yogyakarta.
The 6.2 magnitude quake struck just after dawn and was the third major tremor to devastate Indonesia in 18 months, the worst being the quake on Dec. 26, 2004 and its resulting tsunami which left some 170,000 people dead or missing around Aceh.
Indonesia sits on the Asia-Pacific's so-called "Ring of Fire" marked by heavy volcanic and tectonic activity.
Many bodies were still buried under rubble as authorities struggled to get aid into the region. Several countries offered medical relief teams and emergency supplies.
Sitting with his wife and three children outside his wrecked house in Kembang Songo village, Sarmiji, 44, told Reuters he had received no aid so far.
"Everything is destroyed here. My house is in ruins, all houses are ruined ... I have a neighbor whose 11 family members were killed instantly," he said.
The Social Affairs Ministry's disaster task force in Jakarta said the death toll had reached 3,002 as of late Saturday.
Near Sarmiji's flattened house, several bodies lay among the wreckage. Hundreds of villagers sat outside ruined homes looking dazed and confused.
Telephone services were erratic, especially in rural areas and the outskirts of Yogyakarta. Power was out, although streets in the city centre were lit. Yogyakarta's airport was closed due to a damaged runway.
Sopar, an official from the national coordinating body for disaster, said: "We will send logistics tomorrow to the affected areas ... such as food, blankets, sarongs, tents, generators."
The epicentre of the quake, which struck just before 6 a.m. (2300 GMT), was offshore. Many people feared the quake would be followed by a tsunami and fled coastal homes for higher ground.
No tsunami came but the fear lingered on into the night.
Yogyakarta is near Mount Merapi, a volcano on top alert for a major eruption. A vulcanologist said the quake was not caused by the volcano, but its activity increased after the shock.
Yogyakarta city is about 25 km (16 miles) north of the Indian Ocean coast and 440 km (275 miles) east of Jakarta.
Yogyakarta province, which includes the city, has a population of 3.2 million. Central Java province also suffered damage.
One staff member at a hotel opposite Borobudur temple told Reuters the ancient Buddhist complex was intact with no signs of damage, although several structures nearby collapsed.
Yogyakarta's centuries-old royal palaces and the nearby Borobudur temple complex are prime tourist attractions.
The Prambanan Hindu temple complex near Jakarta suffered some damage but the main structure was intact.
Especially hard-hit was Bantul town and the surrounding area, about 25 km from Yogyakarta city. One official said the Bantul region accounted for more than 2,000 of the dead.
At Solo airport, school teacher Muhammad Yusan told Reuters he had left Aceh, more than 1,000 miles away, that morning to try to reach his family in Bantul.
"I lost my father, aunt and niece, but I can't confirm the rest because I can't get hold of them," Yusan said. "I think Bantul is flattened because most houses there are poorly built and old."
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited Bantul and Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said medical teams had been sent to the hardest-hit areas. The European Union, the United States, Japan and UNICEF were among those announcing immediate aid.