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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Britain offers 3m earthquake aid
Damage caused by Indonesian earthquake
The quake has flattened buildings
Britain has offered 3m aid to Indonesia after a massive earthquake killed thousands on the island of Java.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured by a strong earthquake that struck the Yogyakarta area, officials have said.

UK aid workers have flown to the area, while the Red Cross and Save the Children have launched appeals.

So far there have been no reports of British casualties, Foreign Office minister Kim Howells said.

He said: "A team from the British Embassy in Jakarta has been sent to the scene to check urgently whether any British nationals are involved."

Mr Howells added the government had offered support to the Indonesian government and were "ready to respond to all requests".

Trapped in rubble

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn agreed the 3 million aid package, which will be channelled through the United Nations.

The Department For International Development said it was money originally pledged for the Tsunami relief effort, but which had not been spent by the United Nations.

Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a message to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia offering condolences on behalf of the British people, and backing up the offer of assistance.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy and all of the people of Indonesia," he said.

The Queen also sent a message of sympathy.

"Please convey my deepest sympathy to the friends and families of those who have been killed or injured," she said.

The quake, measuring 6.2, flattened buildings in a densely-populated area near the city of Yogyakarta on the southern coast of Java.

It is important in these circumstances that we offer the right kind of help, that is why it is essential to know what is needed
UK International Development Secretary Hilary Benn

At least 2,900 people have been injured, and many more are still thought to be trapped under rubble and collapsed buildings.

Mr Benn told BBC News 24: "It is the people and the authorities there who will bear the brunt [of helping] and the Indonesian military is on its way to assess the damage.

"Our job is to support them in whatever they ask."

Embassy team

A small team from the British Embassy in Jakarta has set off for the affected area to get a first-hand appraisal of the situation.

We're still afraid - we don't want to go home

"On the basis of the information we get and requests we receive, then we are ready to give assistance," said Mr Benn.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the military to help evacuate victims, and plans to visit the area immediately.

The aid agency Save the Children has sent out a team from the UK, while a team from British medical aid charity Merlin is flying to Java from Aceh - the epicentre of the 2004 tsunami.

Oxfam - which already has personnel on the ground - said among its immediate objectives in Yogyakarta were to help restore water supplies, while a British Red Cross spokesman said it was ready to send supplies.

It said it will be handing out hygiene kits, tarpaulins and sarongs to the needy.

The sarongs are distributed so that people can cover themselves while they sleep, and they can also cover dead bodies.

Gloucestershire-based search and rescue charity, Rapid UK, is also waiting to hear if the Indonesian government needs its help.

John Holland, the organisation's operations director, said: "We have a team of 15 volunteers who are ready to go and have been since this morning."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hilary Benn explains Britain's response



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