Indonesian Quake Survivors Hunt for Supplies

Grieving quake survivors on Monday scavenged for food in the debris of their houses, as the world promised millions of dollars in aid, food and medicine to help Indonesia recover from its latest deadly natural disaster.

The death toll from the weekend's 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which has been followed by hundreds of aftershocks, stood at about 4,300, and thousands of injured were still being treated in hospitals overflowing with bloodied patients.

Torrential rain that fell late Sunday added to the misery of the approximately 200,000 people displaced, most of whom were living in makeshift shelters constructed from plastic, canvas or even cardboard.

CountryWatch: Indonesia

Saturday's quake was the fourth destructive temblor to hit Indonesia in the last 17 months, including the monster that spawned the Dec. 26, 2004, Asian tsunami that killed 230,000 people, most of them in Indonesia.

The country also is battling a spiraling human bird flu case load, a spate of terror attacks by Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants and the threat of eruption from Mount Merapi, just north of the quake zone.

In addition to raising activity at the rumbling volcano, the temblor caused serious damage to the 9th century Prambanan temple, a U.N. world heritage site.

The area affected by Saturday's quake stretched across hundreds of square miles of mostly farming communities to the south of the ancient city of Yogyakarta. Power and telephone service was out across much of the region.

At least 4,332 people were killed, according to command posts in affected areas and local government leader Idham Samawi. The Social Ministry said around 4,600 died, but numbers in several of the hardest hit districts were in dispute.

The U.N. World Food Program started distributing emergency food rations, with three trucks bringing high-energy biscuits to some of the worst-hit districts and two Singapore military cargo planes arriving at Yogyakarta airport with doctors and medical supplies.

Countries across Asia and the world pledged millions of dollars, tons of supplies and hundreds of personnel — and Indonesia said late Sunday it would allocate US$107 million to help rebuild over the next year.

Private aid groups and the United Nations were also mobilizing to get staff and supplies into Indonesia.

Hospitals were badly stretched by people needing emergency care.

Doctors struggled to care for the injured, hundreds of whom were lying on plastic sheets, straw mats and even newspapers outside overcrowded hospitals, some hooked to intravenous drips dangling from trees.

Relatives fanned victims in the heat in temporary shelters set up in the parking lot and corridors of Yogyakarta's Dr. Sardjito Hospital

Though some corpses were pulled from the rubble early Sunday, residents in villages visited by reporters said there were few people or bodies trapped beneath collapsed houses, mostly simple brick and wood structures.

Most of the dead were buried in village graveyards within hours of the disaster, in line with Islamic tradition.

The quake's epicenter was 50 miles south of Mount Merapi, and activity increased soon after the temblor. A large burst spewed hot clouds and sent debris cascading some two miles down its western flank. No one was injured because nearby residents had already been evacuated.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. It has the largest number of volcanos in the world — 76.