05/27/2006, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Java quake: rescue work tough; army mobilizes

The official death toll is over 2,700. Parishes are coming together to free those buried by the ruins. Bridges and roads are destroyed so it is difficult to reach the wounded to ferry them to hospital. Local medics are pleading for reinforcements from nearby areas.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Rescue teams mobilized and aid campaigns were launched for the people of Indonesia as the official toll of quake victims reached 2,727. The earthquake struck the zone of Yogyakarta central Java, this morning.

The areas hardest hit are south of this ancient royal city: Bantul, with more than 2,000 dead, and Klaten, where the number of victims is feared to be over 500. Communications in the area remain difficult and there is no news about rural areas, although central Java is considered to be Indonesia's "most modern" area, with decent infrastructure.

Suseno, head of the rescue centre in Yogyakarta, said more than 2,938 homes collapsed after the quake. Witnesses said the complex of Buddhist temples of Borobudur, a popular destination for devotees and tourists, has remained intact. Evacuation is proceeding slowly because destroyed bridges and roads make it hard to reach stricken areas and to transport people to hospital. The head of the Indonesian army, General Djoko Suyanto, has ordered the setting up of a mobile clinic to help people. The army in Yogyakarta, besides, is involved in repairing channels of communication and Adisucipto international airport, essential for the delivery of aid and rescue. Four Hercules C-130 of the army will take food and medicine to the area. The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is also set to arrive in Yogyakarta.

Local doctors continue to call for reinforcements from nearby regions. The Health Ministry has told all hospitals in Java to respond to the emergency without hesitation. The governor of central Java, Mardiyanto, has said all patients will be treated free-of-charge.

Rescue teams are made up of experts and ordinary people: several stricken Catholic parishes are uniting their forces to free those still trapped under the debris.

The national media has launched a campaign to collect aid: money, food, blankets – at the moment, there is an all out emergency.

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