Yogya May 27th Earthquake
May 31, 2006 Report by
Jogja – Yogya – Yogyakarta, the Central Java Royal city goes by many spellings, but it is the heart and cultural center of Java with Indonesian’s only remaining Sultanate residing here. At 6:54 am on Saturday May 27 th, a 6.3 earthquake shook the city, but its epicenter and most devastating impact was in the rural villages a few miles to the South of Yogya. In this area, the houses were modest brick homes with sandy mortar and terracotta clay tile roofing. The terracotta roofing keeps the houses cooler, but they are much heavier than the tin roofs used in other parts of Indonesia and perhaps contributed to the collapse of so many roofs. In an area roughly 50 miles in diameter, 10s of thousands of homes have been completely demolished and probably an equal number are severely damaged. The death toll is now over 5,500 people killed and 7,000 severely injured.
Well in front of destroyed home & Indonesian Baptist leader surveying damage
Prior to the earthquake, National Indonesian Baptists were already basing disaster preparation activities in Yogya for a potential eruption of Mount Merapi, a few miles North of Yogya. Mt. Merapi has been acting up for the past 2 months with experts predicting a major eruption, but it seems to have settled for a minor eruption of lava flows with no damage or loss of life. Thankfully, the government and many NGOs were already in the area and on active alert for a disaster, thus were able to respond quickly after the devastating earthquake. Baptist World Aid and Hungarian Baptists had medical surgery teams here within 24 hours and have been taking care of some of the most difficult surgery cases. National Baptists have responded quickly as well and had medical and volunteer teams on the ground within hours of the earthquake.
Today I traveled with a carload of Indonesian Baptists along with a Yogya native Muslim leader/professor to take food and supplies to some remote villages which had not yet received any aid. As we entered the village areas outside the city, the damage was quickly evident. The roof and walls had collapsed on many houses leaving them in a pile of wood and brick rubble. Other houses seem to have escaped virtually unscathed. Generally, new well built homes, showed minimal damage, but lower quality village homes rarely escaped severe damage. In the first area we visited, on a remote hillside, only 3 out of 40 homes were still inhabitable.
Watukangsi, Prambanan area & Grandmother in front of her former home
The people were thankful for the rice and instant noodles we brought. However, the emergency search and rescue phase seems to be ending and the people are now in need of tents for temporary and semi-permanent housing. It will take many months and years to rebuild this area and the people will need temporary and long term assistance to rebuild their homes and communities.
Village headman carrying rice & Woman praying behind her temporary shelter
The Javanese are known for their politeness and ability to always mask their emotions with a smile. I stopped to talk to Mr. Jumingan in a hamlet of Bantul, in the area of the epicenter of the earthquake. He had just finished his afternoon prayers as I was photographing the ruins of the house in the first picture above, with the well in the front corner. He told me how he had been out at the well of his home drawing up water in the morning when the earthquake rumbled in with its devastation. He was hardly able to remain standing during the 57 seconds of what seemed like an eternity. His wife was inside their home and was killed by crumbling walls. He took me to see his home and showed me where his wife’s body was found under a bulging pile of bricks. A table now marks the spot. He has a 21 year old son in college and a 17 year old son in high school. He asked if there would be any assistance to him and his family besides the boxes of noodles we had brought. I was only able to tell him that after this emergency phase of disaster relief, people would meet to determine the long-term reconstruction and development phase. There is great need here––emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Recovery may well take a lifetime.
Mr. Jumingan standing in the ruins of his home
- Pray for strength and comfort for the survivors who have lost family, friends, homes, and life as they knew it.
- Pray that temporary shelters, food, and water will be provided quickly. Pray that rain might not make their situation even more miserable as many are sleeping in the open and in tents which are not waterproof.
- Pray that the survivors might feel God's presence in the hands reaching out to them from around the world.
- Pray that Mt. Merapi might not erupt making a bad situation even worse.
- Pray for the Relief workers for health, stamina, resources, and wisdom as to how to best help.
- Pray that resources will be provided to match the needs.