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Hundreds die in Indonesian quake

 
At least 443 people have been killed and hundreds more injured by a strong earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java, the Red Cross has said.

The quake, measuring 6.2, flattened buildings in a densely-populated area near the city of Yogyakarta on the southern coast of Java.

Witnesses said people fled as their homes collapsed around them, after the quake struck early in the morning.

Electricity and communications across the city were also down, police said. < !-- E SF -->

rta's airport was closed. Local media said the runway had cracked and part of a roof had caved in.

is near the Mount Merapi volcano, which threatened to erupt earlier this month, forcing thousands of people to be evacuated.

The earthquake is not thought to be caused by the volcano, but there are reports of heightened activity in its vicinity.

'Concrete chunks'

The quake hit at 0554 local time (2253 GMT Friday), around 25km (15 miles) south of the city of Yogyakarta, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

 

Yogyakarta, Indonesia's ancient royal capital and one of its biggest cities, is about 440km (275 miles) south-east of the capital, Jakarta.

"The earthquake was felt to be massive - larger than the locals here say they've felt in their lives," said Brook Weisman-Ross, regional disaster co-ordinator for Plan International children's charity in Java.

"I was shaken from my bed... As furniture was falling, concrete chunks started falling from my hotel room as people were running out in panic in their bedclothes," he told the BBC.

He said there was extensive damage across the city and that many of the smaller, older houses had collapsed.  

Aftershocks

The death toll rose steadily as hospitals around Yogyakarta reported a growing number of fatalities.

"Most of them have wounds on their heads. The flow is not going down. The numbers are going to escalate," Subandi from the Bethesda hospital morgue in Yogyakarta told Reuters news agency by telephone.

He said aftershocks had forced them to move injured patients outside, and were disrupting hospital operations.

y time there is a tremor, hospital workers run out of the building," he said.

Mosques, churches and hospitals were housing people who had fled their homes.

"We're still afraid. We don't want to go home," said Hendra, one of hundreds of people who took refuge at Yogyakarta's Marganingsih Catholic Church.

Indonesia is in a zone known as the Pacific "ring of fire", which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

In December 2004, a huge earthquake off Indonesia's coast killed hundreds of thousands of people by triggering a tsunami.

 


 

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