Earthquake in Jogjakarta

Yesterday, on May 27th 2006 5.53 WIB, a five minutes 5.9 Richter scale tectonic earthquake in Jogjakarta has caused more than 3.000 deaths of people in Jogjakarta and other cities in Middle Java. The earthquake was felt even in East Java. I went to my office very early yesterday (at 7.00 WITA), and I have no knowledge of the earthquake until 9 AM, when the family of one of my colleagues who lived in Klaten called to confirm that they are OK. At that time, I wasn’t realized that it was a big one. I have lived in Jogjakarta for 2.5 years (2002-2005), and minor earthquakes are something you get from time to time.

I got home at 1 PM, I watched TV (something I rarely do). What? Hundreds of people were dead? MetroTV showed the devastation in Bantul, the worst place which get the impact. Turns out that the hypocentrum was 33 km deep in the Indian Ocean, 38 kms south of Jogjakarta. Bantul is the nearest area to the south coast. 2971 death only are from this area. Practically all houses and buildings were destroyed. Hours by hours watching, the casualties keep increasing. I contacted all my friends in Jogja, this is tidbits of the insider story:

It was the third day of the long weekend for my friends (they are undergraduate and postgraduate students in Jogjakarta) who lived in peaceful area in Jalan Kaliurang Km 5, in Jogjakarta. So, naturally, at 5.53, they are still slumbering. Suddenly, everything’s shaken so violently that they thought everything would fall upon their heads. Everyone who were asleep were snapped up and, as usually we do in previous less violent earthquakes, run out as fast as they can. Nobody know what happened, but mostly thought it was caused by Merapi, the mountain in the north which is expected to be exploded anytime. There were a lot of people outside their houses. After awhile, came the rumor that the earthquake came from the sea and, from what people know happened to Aceh, the rumor of tsunami is spreading fast. Whether that is true or just rumor, we ordinary people were decided to be safe than sorry. My friends ran (and some are on their motorcycles) to the north, to the direction of Merapi. You can imagine how panic people on the streets, in TV I can see people, some with tears and hysterical babbles, some without footwear, many in their “daster”, ran to the north. SOme said it feels like the end of the world. Electricity was gone, so nobody really knows what to do. This is a flaw in disaster management in Indonesia.

After awhile, at noon, my friends came back to the house, but there were several minor earthquakes, so they didn’t dare to go into the house. Instead, people were just sitting outside. Electricity was still off until the afternoon. Road in front of the house was caved in. Roofs were falling down. Some fences were damaged.
People tend to stay in big squares, especially in the squares around Keraton.

Friends in Sardjito hospital told me that they worked from morning to afternoon, asking even the nurses on leave to help, and the victims kept coming. They need more health providers, drugs, and food. Patients and their family chose to stay outside, so tents are held up for them. UI has sent their doctors and forensics to help.
Friend in Solo, … kms north of Jogja, told me that some new shopping malls are broken, maybe because of the bad building plan.

I read today in Detik, that some Jogja people believed that the earthquake had to do with Keraton. They believed that Sultan, with the help of the spirits, tried to removed the danger of bigger casualties caused by the believed-soon-to-be-happened big explosion of Merapi to Indian Ocean. Hmm, and sacrificed people in the south? No word came from Sultan yet.

Yesterday, Merapi was exhaling its usual wedhus gembel. I was thought that the earthquake is vulcanic one, not tectonic. Vulcanic earthquake is caused by the movement of magma in volcano (an early warning of eruption), while tectonic earthquake is caused by violent displacement of earth plates. This earthquake in Jogja was said to be the result of a collision of Indo-Australian palte and Eurasian plate, 180 kms from the south of Java south coast. Some expert said that the pattern of collision is subduction (whatever that is), that has a potential to cause tsunami. But the magnitude of 5.9 Richter scale is not adequate to cause tsunami (In Aceh, the earthquake was 9 Richter scale caused seawaves of 5 meters high. In Nias, the earthquake was 8.7 Richter scale, caused 3 meters high seawaves). This tectonic earthquake may affect Merapi, since the collision wave can vibrate the magma and causes explosion. An expert named Cecep Suhardja (or Subarya?)from Badan Koordinasi dan Pemetaan Nasional Jakarta claimed that he predicted this earthquake based on his analysis last year which article publicized in Journal of Nature, March 2006 (Kompas, May 28th 2006).
(Photos taken from CBS and SMH)

Update:
The latest update of Jogja’s situation to find out what help that you can give, please check this site:
1. Informasi Gempa Jogja
2. Commonroom Networks

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