Strong Earthquake Hits Indonesia

YOGYAKARTA (Indonesia): A 5.4-magnitude earthquake rattled the area on Tuesday afternoon, sparking fresh panic and rekindling memories of a deadly quake in Yogyakarta in 2006, but there were no reports of damage.

Rescuers voiced fears for missing children lost in the chaos of a mass exodus after a series of killer eruptions from the nation’s most
dangerous volcano.

About 320,000 people are living in cramped temporary shelters after being ordered to evacuate from a 20-kilometre “danger zone” around Mount Merapi, which has been spewing ash and heat clouds since late October.

“We’re concerned about children who are yet to be united with their parents,” said Makbul Mubarak, a coordinator for volunteers who are trying to reunite separated families.

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in the central island of Java after Friday’s powerful eruption, the biggest at Mount Merapi since the 1870s.

Hundreds were still searching for their loved ones, Mubarak said. “My parents and I ran out of the house. I was scared because I’m still traumatised by the big quake that occurred here in 2006,” said Deru Waskita, 33, a resident of Yogyakarta.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the fresh quake was 94 kilometres southwest of Yogyakarta, the historic capital of central Java province.

Government volcanologist Surono said Mount Merapi, which means “Mountain of Fire,” was still belching heat clouds on Tuesday but not as intensely as on previous days.

Agence France-Presse

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