Indonesia Quake Toll Continues to Climb At least 4,300 people are confirmed dead in the aftermath of Saturday's earthquake in Indonesia. The quake struck a highly populated area on the island of Java in central Indonesia, and an aftershock hit the region Sunday.
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Indonesia Quake Toll Continues to Climb

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Indonesia Quake Toll Continues to Climb

Indonesia Quake Toll Continues to Climb

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

The death toll from Saturday's earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java has now climbed to over 4,000. Thousands more have been injured, and aid agencies are predicting roughly 100,000 have been left homeless.

The quake struck just before 6:00 a.m. local time and was centered just off shore, not far from the ancient city of Yogyakarta. There was some damage in the city, but the area south of the city, between it and the Indian Ocean, appears to have borne the brunt of the damage and suffered the most casualties.

NPR's Michael Sullivan joins us now. Michael, can you tell us exactly are you?


Liane, I'm in a village called Bum-Bum(ph). It's about 15 miles south of the city, and it, like many, many in this area, have just been leveled. I mean, there's fewer than a dozen houses still standing here.

And it's pretty clear that the scene here has been repeated in maybe hundreds of villages like it. The city Yogyakarta itself seems to have gotten off pretty lightly compared to these villages.

HANSEN: Are there any basic services there? I mean electricity? What about water?

SULLIVAN: In some parts of the city of Yogyakarta, yes, but not where I am, and certainly not in many other places outside of the city.

It got dark here awhile ago, and there's no light anywhere except for cooking fires that people have started. There is a small generator, where I am at a storefront clinic along the highway, and the doctors and nurses here are using the light from it to treat the injured. And that's something that's going on around the clock. While I've been sitting here talking to you they just brought in three more patients that I can see. They all look like children. The oldest may be around ten years old. And the doctor who runs this clinic says he's had several hundred injured come in here since yesterday morning, and he says there are about 50 dead in this town that he knows about, and probably lots more, he guesses, buried under the rubble who haven't been found.

And again, if you imagine this scene here and you duplicate it all over the district, then I think you get an idea of the scope of this thing.

HANSEN: How's the relief effort going? Is it getting in? Is it getting to the people who need it?

SULLIVAN: It's starting to, but it seems largely informal, at least here. It's mostly volunteers. A doctor and some nurses who got in today from Bali, some more nurses from the city of Samarinda, in the north of here, and they brought some supplies. But they're still short of basics. I mean thread to stitch up wounds, things like that.

Now, the doctor who runs this place is hoping things are going to get getter tomorrow, and in fact things got a little better today. I mean, he's been able to place some of the more seriously injured from here in Yogyakarta. That wasn't the case yesterday. He sent three seriously injured people from here there yesterday. And the driver just took them from hospital to hospital looking for beds, and in the end he just turned around and brought them back here. There just wasn't any room for them. So today beds were found for those people and about a dozen others in city of Yogyakarta.

The city's hospitals are still overwhelmed, but they do seem to be doing better today thanks to help from aid agencies and others. But you know, having said that, many people I spoke with today up and down this road here say they haven't seen much help from the government. Not yet anyway. And they're hoping that improves.

HANSEN: What kind of shelter is there for people who've lost their homes?

SULLIVAN: Not much. And to make things even worse, it's been pouring rain here for a couple of hours. You can probably hear it behind me here.

There are a few tents that have been set up, that have been brought in by volunteers. But many, many people have simply stretched a piece of plastic between two trees and are huddling under that. With the rain coming down like it is, the plastic is not even close to being enough. So it's going to be a really long night for these people.

HANSEN: What about aftershocks? Are people worried about another earthquake?

SULLIVAN: Yeah, and I think that's why many were going to sleep outside tonight anyway. They don't want to sleep inside. And even though we're a good ten or 15 miles from the ocean here, some are still worried about another tsunami like the one that hit Aceh.

I talked to one guy today who said when the quake hit yesterday morning he grabbed his granddaughter and he started running. He didn't stop until he was two miles away on slightly higher ground. Now, there was no tsunami, of course, but the threat of aftershocks is still very real.

And there's the threat posed by Mount Marapi, just to the north of Yogyakarta. I mean that's a threat the authorities have been worrying about here and have been planning for for more than a month now. Some say the volcano is ready to blow, and it's just a question of when. And a lot of people here are wondering if that's going to be the other shoe to drop, and of course hoping that it won't be.

HANSEN: NPR's Michael Sullivan. Michael, thank you very much.

SULLIVAN: You're welcome, Liane.

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