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Indonesia quake toll rises to 3,700

The 6.3 magnitude quake rocked the Java Island on Saturday. In pics

india Updated: May 28, 2006 14:14 IST

Thousands of exhausted and grieving survivors dug through their crumpled homes on Sunday searching for clothes, food and valuables after a powerful earthquake hit central Indonesia, killing more than 3,700.

The magnitude-6.3 quake struck on Saturday morning and injured thousands more in the heart of densely populated Java Island, in the country's worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami. It also triggered fears that a nearby rumbling volcano would erupt.

The disaster zone stretched across hundreds of square kilometres of mostly farming communities in Yogyakarta province. The worst devastation was in the town of Bantul, where more than 2,400 people were killed and 80 per cent of the homes were flattened.

"I have to start my life from zero again," said Poniran, whose 5-year-old daughter Ellie was killed in the quake.

INDONESIA'S WORST QUAKES 

Mar 2005: Magnitude 8.7 quake killed 1,300 people on Nias Island

Dec 2004: Tsunami, resulting from a 9.3 magnitude quake off Sumatra, killed over 200,000 people in Asia

Jun 2000: Quake of magnitude 7.9 killed over 120 people in Bengkulu

Feb 1996: Magnitude 8.2 quake near Biak Island left over 100 dead

Dec 1992: Over 2,000 people died in a 7.8 magnitude quake and resulting tsunami on Flores Island

Poniran dug up his still-breathing daughter from the rubble of her bedroom, but she died in a hospital awaiting treatment along with hundreds of others.

"Her last words were 'Daddy, Daddy,'" he said.

Tens of thousands of people spent Saturday night sleeping in any open space available -- on streets, cassava fields, even on the narrow paths between rice fields. Power and telephone service was out across much of the region, adding to the terror of aftershocks.

About 450 aftershocks had shaken the region as of midday on Sunday, with the strongest measuring magnitude 5.2, said Handi, an official at the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency who uses only one name.

First Published: May 27, 2006 08:23 IST