Yogyakarta Earthquake

May 28th, 2006, in News, by

The death toll from the Yogyakarta earthquake has risen to over 5000.

The earthquake, which was centred on the Bantul regency, was of 6.3 magnitude and struck at 5:54 a.m on Saturday and injured thousands more in the historic heartland of densely populated Java island. It also triggered fears that a nearby rumbling volcano would erupt and caused serious damage to the world-famous 9th century Prambanan temple.

The disaster zone stretched across hundreds of square kilometers of mostly farming communities. The worst devastation was in the town of Bantul, where more than 2,400 people were killed and 80 percent of the homes were flattened. Tens of thousands of people spent the night Saturday sleeping in any open space available – on streets, in cassava fields, even on the narrow paths between rice fields. Power and telephone service was out across much of the region, adding to the fear and confusion aroused by aftershocks.

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


The quake’s epicentre was 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Mt. Merapi, and activity at the volcanic mountain increased soon after the earthquake struck. A large burst spewed hot clouds and sent debris cascading some 3.5 kilometers (two miles) down its western flank. No one was injured because nearby residents had already been evacuated.

As to the causes of the quake a researcher at the National Coordinating Agency for Surveys and Mapping, Priyadi Kartono, dismissed people’s superstitions that there was a connection between Merapi’s recent rumbling and the earthquake. Despite its close proximity to the quake’s epicenter, some 38 kilometers south of densely populated Yogyakarta, he said:

Mount Merapi cannot generate a tectonic quake, but the quake can affect the activity inside the volcano.


There was also much concern and sometimes panic among the people that a tsunami would result from the quake. Gridlocked traffic paralyzed Yogyakarta streets as panicky residents, mainly from the coastal area of Bantul, fought for every inch of the road toward inland Kaliurang. Priyadi Kartono put dismissed there fears as well. He said:

Fortunately, the magnitude is not strong enough to trigger a tsunami. If it were, it would’ve happened soon after the quake, probably about 5 minutes after the quake.

and added that the giant wave would have occurred only if the quakes changed the sea water volume. He said to cause a tsunami, the two plates in a quake would have to break vertically, with one going up and the other going down.

Historical Sites

Archaeologists surveying the Prambanan Temple complex in Yogyakarta hours after Saturday’s devastating earthquake found extensive damage to the ancient site. Stone blocks and statues lay scattered about the ground; decades of patient restoration work had been undone in less than a minute.

Prambanan Temple was constructed by the rulers of the Sanjaya Dynasty, in a display of their power and influence in the ninth century. But power struggles, volcanic explosions and earthquakes took their toll on the complex, so when the Dutch discovered the site in 1733 it was in urgent need of restoration. Work on the temples began in 1903 and continued until 1991.

The land around Yogyakarta is also home to Borobudur, Kalasan, Sari and other holy temples, constructed by the rulers of the ancient Javanese kingdoms. Yogyakarta and its people are the custodians of ancient traditions, and the city is home to a royal family that can trace its line back to the Mataram era in the 16th century.

Downtown Yogyakarta

Saturday’s earthquake has left this usually laid-back city in shambles, with many of its residents left without homes or afraid to return to their houses. There is no friendly banter between shoppers and vendors along Jl. Malioboro, a favorite shopping destination for both locals and tourists alike. Only the rubble of collapsed buildings and smashed glass from shops.

Near Malioboro, the ground is littered with slate from the roof of the former Dutch fort Vredeburg, though its thick walls stand undamaged.

Yogyakarta Palace was not totally spared. While the residence of the current sultan, Hamengku Buwono X, who is also the governor, escaped with only minor cracks to its walls, part of the Hamengku Buwono IX Museum collapsed during the quake. The collapsed building housed an ancient set of gamelan instruments used for weddings. In the same compound, a building housing carriages used by former rulers suffered cracks to its walls.

12 Comments on “Yogyakarta Earthquake”

  1. brett weber says:

    who died and when did it happen

    i love you guys peace out

  2. Molisan Tono says:

    it’s a sad moment right now here in Indonesia. but let’s take a good lesson, most Indonesian people, especially those who lived very close with tradition and folk tales, those people are blinded from modern scienses.

    they who died last saturday and keep counting today, died, without knowing anything how to manage theri escape from dead list. I meant, in most advance and modern country, let say USA; there are always a drill, wherever you find it, the drill teach you how to manage escape from earthquake, fire, etc.

    while here in Indonesia… if the “key keeper” said Merapi won’t erupt, then it won’t!!!… while geologist predicted other wise. so, as common being, would you consider the death has a great deal taking those precious lives? I don’t think so… it’s because lack of knowledge and stiff harden neck and stupidity that cause taken too many lives…

    i hope it will never happen anymore.

  3. Aymee says:

    where is the Epicentre?

  4. gabby says:

    i love you guys peace oput

    I hope you have insurance

  5. orlando says:

    hello I think thats its bad that there was an earth quake

  6. Molisan Tono says:

    the same day the earthquake strike, Mt. Merapi activities was increasing. surprisingly… next day, there’s another two “big” earthquake in Irian Jaya and Sumatera Barat….hmm… a little bit scary though… but Indonesian BMG said Jakarta is away from earthquake disaster… hope so… cause from what I’m studying… most of Java island is on dead list… I might be wrong, am i?

    hell no insurance working here in Indonesia… those creepy blood sucking insurance sales person only want you money. I prefer having legit insurance from outside Indonesia… much more competence and reliable.

  7. Yani says:

    This is truly a tragic event. I have a friend living in Yogyakarta, an Australia, who is lucky and has not been directly affected. He has asked friends here in Australia for cash so he can help make a difference directly. And I have in turn sent his email out to my contacts.

    You know Timor, Bali bombing, death sentences for drug offences, attitude to human rights and free speach… It all goes against Indonesia and provides people here with an excuse not to help.


  8. MAH says:

    They need help, not just words..
    What if it is happened to u guys..
    So where are you guys..

  9. Rockstar says:

    MAH wat is wrong with you? Is it wrong to offer condolonces?

    Stop being so idealist, grow up. Before asking them, why don’t u ask for yourself? What have you done for them?

  10. Indra Wirawan says:

    Indonesia…What’s wrong?everything happen in this country..but the show must go on…

    I love you all

  11. Molisan Tono says:

    weird… I still remember posting on last 1st june. i mentioned about Jakarta being away from earthquake, right? funny thing is… two days ago, on 19 July, Jakarta was panic… wow… panic in the air dude…
    Jakarta got sort of major earthquake, again, luckily no casualty was reported. how ever, that earthquake on sunda strait has manage a tsunami right 2 hours after earthquake strike. yet, there no casualties reported.
    funny but sad, again BMG with so naif said Jakarta is away. let’s imagine the earthquake are closer about hundreds kilometer… the stories would be much different. so, what I’m trying to say… Government and other Human Right Society must act fast to teach people how to manage escape and surviving disaster. not only busy with democracy things which has no evidentially improvment.
    like I said before, the must be whole lot more drills how to manage and survive disaster. hope Indonesian government learn from every disaster, otherwise, folks, you and i can turn our self to become a begger…

  12. becky says:

    I am surprised at you lot you should feel sorry for them not go against them you should be ashamed of your self, I hope you are all ok in Yogyakarta. The best of luck….

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