06/03/2006, 00.00
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Java quake: aftershock sparks panic among people

There were tremors of magnitude 4 during the night. Survivors fear another disaster and the eruption of the Merapi volcano.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Java experienced another tremor last night that prompted survivors of the 27 May quake to flee from their makeshift shelters. Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said it recorded several aftershocks of magnitude 4, each lasting about 30 seconds, and the tremor measured 6.3.

"I was sleeping in the tent with my family when I felt the tremor. I was so scared, I couldn't sleep anymore," Hayati said after the latest tremors. Suroto, a taxi driver in Yogyakarta, about 440km from Jakarta, said people in the region feared a second disaster. "I was driving and I saw people running from their homes. My family is okay, but we still sleep outside. There are so many rumours about more earthquakes and the eruption of the volcano Mount Merapi," he said.

The official death toll of the quake is 6,234. The tremor flattened more than 100,000 homes and many people are now living in tents or makeshift shelters of cardboard and plastic sheeting. The social ministry's disaster task force said 33,231 people had serious injuries and 12,917 people had minor injuries.

Muslims, Christians and Buddhists in Java, fearing an imminent eruption of Merapi, have been praying and making offerings so that Indonesia may be spared future natural disasters.

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