| Two Indonesian women pack their belongings as they leave their damaged home in Bantul, Indonesia, on Saturday. (AP)
Yogyakarta (Indonesia), May 27 (AFP): Terrified residents fled their homes in panic after being shaken awake by a huge earthquake that razed buildings and hurled rocks and debris in Indonesia’s main island of Java.
Thousands ran for the hills as false rumours of a tsunami spread in the wake of the 6.2 magnitude tremblor that left more than 3000 dead and hundreds injured, while others wandered dazed and confused in the streets.
“I was shaken from my bed,” Brook Weisman-Ross, regional disaster coordinator for the Children’s Charity Plan International, told the BBC. “As furniture was falling, concrete chunks started falling from my hotel room as people were running out in panic in their bedclothes,” he said.
“I heard people in the hotel screaming, children crying and yelling.
“The earthquake was felt to be massive ' larger than the locals here say they’ve felt in their lives.”
Weisman-Ross said that as he crossed town to check on the safety of his workers he saw many collapsed or badly cracked buildings, while chaos erupted on the streets.
“People were panicking with rumours of a tsunami which did not happen,” Weisman-Ross later told CNN.
“I heard hundreds of tyres screeching, engines roaring, people yelling ... Many people driving as fast as they could to get uphill,” he said. “There’s a large amount of stress, fear and uncertainty.”
Television pictures showed people, some carrying frightened children, crying and consoling each other on roads strewn with rocks, debris and damaged cars.
Roads were split by massive fissures and houses had collapsed in on themselves. Hundreds of people were rushed to hospitals that were stretched to cope with the rush.
Local radio was quoted on Channel News Asia a saying that some hospitals did not have enough doctors to cope with the influx of casulaties.
The BBC reported there were not enough ambulances to ferry the injured to hospitals for treatment, forcing them to travel by lorry, bus or by foot.
Pictures showed people of all ages with broken arms and legs and bruised faces laid out on tiled floors covered in blood waiting for attention.
Operating theatres were working flat out with bodies covered with bedsheets.
Weisman-Ross said that within half an hour of the quake people were digging through rubble to look for survivors trapped underneath. There appeared to be a “high chance people are still trapped”, he said.
“Aftershocks could potentially do more damage to the buildings that are weak,” he said.
Weisman-Ross was in the area working on the evacuation of residents living near Mount Merapi, a volcano to the north of the quake’s epicentre that has been spewing searing heat clouds and lava for the past few weeks.