Sunday, May 28, 2006

" I thought Merapi just erupted..."

5 hours ago, I talked to reader razzi who is in the earthquake struck Yogyakarta. We talked about his experience during the earthquake.

Me: Hello razzi. Thanks for talking to me. Tell me what happened in Yogyakarta early this morning.

razzi: I was already awake at 5am to get ready to drive to Mount Merapi to take some photos of the volcano in action and then go to the Borobudur Temple nearby to Merapi. Around 10 minutes before 6, while I was taking a sip of my coffee, I noticed that some cats out of my home were acting weird. They were running around all over the place. And then my house started to shake.

Me: Cats? Interesting. I have heard of reports of animals that can sense an impending earthquake and other natural disasters. Maybe the cats you noticed were reacting to something only they can feel. Can you describe to me the shaking that you experienced?

razzi: My house shook really bad. This lasted for I think more than 5 minutes. It was really frightening. Parts of my ceiling dropped. There's a big mirror that was facing me and it cracked into hundreds of pieces. I thought Merapi just erupted. I quickly ran out of the house. I stay in a house that is two storeys high. It is one of the newer and better constructed homes in the area so damage was minimal.

Me: Were you alone?

razzi: Yes I was. I'm actually working in Jakarta. This is my father's house. Thank god that he was out of town.

Me: So you were back in Yogyakarta for?

razzi: I wanted to take some photos of Merapi for a story I'm working on.

Me: What do you see when you ran out of your house?

razzi: Panic. Lots of people running out of their house. Screaming. Crying. I heard some of them shouting, "Merapi! Merapi!" I tell you everyone thought it was the volcano erupting. We then realised only an hour later that it was actually an earthquake. There are many who then decided to run to higher grounds because they feared a tsunami.

Me: I'm sure the damage was incredible?

razzi: The area in which I'm at is not too bad. The worst is over in Bantul. Most of the houses there collapsed. Roads cracked. I saw bodies being pulled out of rubbles. People lying out of their homes, most of them in pain because they were injured.

Me: Reports I've read say that more than 2,000 people died. In your opinion, is this true?

razzi: I think the number of people dead will be close or more to 3000. I was with two men helping an old lady to the nearby hospital. I saw a lot of dead bodies. I saw ten people that I know dead. In the hospital, there were so many people being brought there. There are not enough rooms and beds for everyone. Hundreds had to be treated by doctors and nurses outside this hospital. I'm sure there are thousands more in other hospitals.

Me: What kind of injuries did you see?

razzi: I think most have head injuries and fractures of the hands and legs. I saw a lot people bleeding from the head.

Me: What is the situation now over there?

razzi: It is very quiet now. Very eerie. Electricty that was cut after the earthquake is slowly coming on again. People can also start using the phones now. I know many people are sleeping out in the open and under temp shelters because their homes were destroyed and some that are not destroyed, are too dangerous to get into.

Me: Has the government come to the aid quickly?

razzi: There are a lot of government officials and NGOs located in the northern part of Yogyakarta. They are already there for weeks now because of Merapi. I'm not sure how fast they came south to help but what I see straight after the earthquake are only locals helping each other and pulling bodies out of the rubble.

Me: There are reports of aftershocks. How many have you felt?

razzi: I felt a few. Nothing as scary as the actual earthquake. There's one aftershock I think at around 6 plus that is the strongest.

Me: Many of us who are reading this blog have not felt an earthquake before. Can you tell us how it felt to be in one?

razzi: It is like someone grabs the ground you stood on and shakes it violenty sideways. The shaking itself is not dangerous. What is scary is your house falling down on you. And only after the earthquake will the shock, horror and sadness start affecting you when you see the damage and the injured and dead people. I don't think I can sleep tonight.

Me: Ok mate. I know it's a tough time for you. I'm sorry about what happened. Do take some rest and thanks again for talking to me. Take care and keep in touch.

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