Aid workers rush to Java earthquake zone

 Aid agencies have been racing against time to rescue survivors of the earthquake which hit Java on Sunday. More than 4,000 people have been confirmed dead and thousands are injured. At least one church is believed to have been destroyed. Fr Rudy Rehkito an Indonesian Oblate Missionary of Mary Immaculate, gave the following eyewitness report hours after the 6.2 quake shook the island. He said: "I was celebrating Mass this morning when we felt a very strong earth tremor and people rushed out of the church. Now everywhere around us there is destruction, fear, desperation. We are doing all we can to help those in need. In the coming days we will continue to pray for the dead and their families and undertake initiatives of solidarity making our structures available to the inured and the homeless. "Caritas Yogyakarta is also organising aid efforts. We know that Christ the King church in Yogyakarta has suffered serious damage. Our duty is to be strong in order to help the people to have hope and to operate together with the authorities." Government military and civil rescue teams are working to pull survivors from the ruins and transport them injured to hospital. But local sources say medical centres in the area are already overflowing with patients and cannot take any more. The earthquake gave rise to fear of another tsunami and many people have fled the city and coastal areas making for the interior highlands. In some places electricity supplies, communications have been cut and roads are impassable, Yogyakarta airport has been closed. The president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the army to help evacuate the homeless. The alarm was sounded immediately among NGOs and the local Catholic community activated volunteers and medical structures to treat the injured. Bishop Ignazio Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Semarang, the diocese in which Yogyakarta is situated, went to visit the site of the disaster to bring comfort and reassurance to the victims and offer civil authorities the full collaboration of the Church. The Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Indonesia has its own Crisis and Reconciliation Service directed by local Jesuit Fr Ignazio Ismartono which coordinates emergency interventions and aid. The Service, which provided valid assistance and aid at the time of the tsunami, is now discussing ways of intervening to help affected people in Java. Source: Fides

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