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Indonesia Quake Catastrophe

UPDATE: A 6.2 quake struck Papua-New Guiinea Saturday night.The area it hit is sparsely populated and there arecurrently no reports of damage or injuries. The Indonesianquake, also 6.2 on the Richter Scale, struck at 5:53AM local time Friday in a heavily populated area of Java, and isbelieved to have taken at least 6,000 lives and injured2,000 or more. The quake, centered near the town ofYogyakarta, took place in an area where there has beenincreased volcanism in recent months. Mt. Merapi is eruptingnearby. Whether the quake and the volcanic activity arerelated is not known, but the quake was tectonic, notvolcanic in origin. Quakes caused by volcanism are due tomagma and gasses moving underground. Tectonic quakes arecaused by faults.

Much more powerful quakes have struck the region recently,but they have not hit heavily populated areas. Damage in andaround Yogyakarta is said to be extensive, with much of thecommunity reduced to rubble. A quake of this intensity wouldgenerally be expected to cause only moderate damage, but thetype of construction used in the area--unreinforcedconcrete--is notoriously susceptible to earthquake damageand extremely dangerous when heavy concrete ceilings collapse.

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