The European Commission said Saturday it would release up to euro3 million (US$3.8 million) in emergency aid to help the victims of the earthquake in Indonesia.

The powerful quake flattened buildings in central Indonesia early Saturday, killing several thousand and injuring thousands more in the country's worst disaster since the 2004 tsunami.

"Within a few hours, we expect the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to issue a preliminary appeal and we aim to have immediate funding available for essential relief activities," EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel said in a statement.

EU governments were put on "pre-alert" early Saturday, warning them that search and rescue specialists may be asked for.

The magnitude 6.2 quake struck at 5:54 a.m. near the ancient city of Yogyakarta as many people slept, causing death and damage in many nearby towns.