May 27, 2006

US on standby to help Indonesia quake victims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government was standing by
to help Indonesian quake victims, if Jakarta request its aid
after a powerful earthquake struck the main island of Java, a
spokeswoman said on Saturday.

The 6.2-magnitude quake, which struck just after dawn on
Saturday, was the third major tremor to devastate Indonesia in
18 months and killed more than 3,000 people near the royal city
of Yogyakarta.

Thousands more spent the night outside ruined homes or in
the grounds of mosques, churches and schools.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon said the U.S.
Defense Department was ready to join any coordinated government
assistance effort for Indonesia. But she said the Indonesian
government would first have to request aid through normal
diplomatic channels.

"Certainly, the United States is on stand-by to offer
whatever kind of assistance the Indonesian government may
indicate to our State Department that they may need," Pentagon
spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said.

The Bush administration dispatched U.S. troops, helicopters
and military equipment to Indonesia after the December 2004
tsunami, as a part of a relief effort for the Indian Ocean
region that totaled hundreds of millions of dollars.