| Tourists walk through the debris at the Prambanan temple on Sunday. (AP)
Prambanan, Indonesia, May 28 (AP): Yesterday’s deadly earthquake in Indonesia badly damaged the world renowned Prambanan temple complex, sending intricate carved reliefs crashing to the ground and destroying years of restoration work in under a minute.
The temple ' a vivid example of predominantly Muslim Indonesia’s Hindu and Buddhist past ' was built in the 9th century, and is recognised by the UN as a world heritage site.
Today, debris from broken walls and carvings at the temple were scattered over the ground, with some pieces as big as a child.
It will be closed to the public until archaeologists are able to determine whether yesterday’s 6.3-magnitude quake also hurt the foundation or tilted the shrines, said Agus Waluyo, head of the Yogyakarta Archaeological Conservation Agency.
“It will take months to identify the precise damage,” he said, adding that an initial survey indicated it was extensive.
Pieces of small temples called “candis” also had broken off.
“I’m very sad it’s in such a state. It will be difficult to repair,” said Dermanto, who has worked as a security guard for 21 years at the temple.
The visitors’ centre was closed, and houses and shops near the complex were badly affected in the tremor.
The temple is one of the largest Hindu compounds in Southeast Asia.
“Everyone around here is shocked,” said Theresa, a coconut seller outside the temple. “This monument shows the greatness of Indonesia,” she added.
Not long after Javanese rulers constructed the Prambanan temple in the 9th century, it was abandoned for unknown reasons and began to deteriorate.
Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918 but is unfinished.
The nearby Buddhist temple of Borobudur, which appears to have escaped damage in yesterday’s quake, is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. Together, the temples draw more than a million tourists every year.
Local media reported that outer sections of Yogyakarta’s centuries-old royal palaces had also collapsed.
More than 450 aftershocks have been recorded following the earthquake.
The strongest of the 470 aftershocks, which measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, took place two hours after the initial 6.3-magnitude quake.
“Aftershocks happen because the tectonic plates are in the process of stabilising,” an official said.