Indonesia earthquake: Search underway after 5.6 quake kills dozens in West Java

Jakarta, Indonesia

Rescuers dig through debris Tuesday to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes and buildings and killed more than 100 people in a heavily populated area of ​​Indonesia’s West Java province.

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the Cianjur region in West Java at 1:21 p.m. local time on Monday at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), collapsing buildings during school classes. were going on.

The death toll rose to 103 on Tuesday, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB). Earlier, the governor of West Java, Ridwan Kamil, said more than 160 people had been killed – a discrepancy that was unclear.

Photographs showed buildings razed to the ground, bricks and broken metal littering the streets. According to BNPB, more than 700 people were injured and thousands were displaced.

“Most of the dead are children,” Kamil told reporters on Monday, adding that the death toll is likely to rise. “There were many incidents in many Islamic schools.”

Villagers retrieve items from damaged houses following the 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Cianjur on November 22, 2022.

More than 50 schools were affected, according to the aid group Save the Children, with powerful tremors forcing children to leave classrooms.

Mia Saharosa, a teacher at one of the affected schools, said the quake “was a shock to all of us,” according to the group.

“We all gathered in the field and the children were crying with fear and worried about their families at home,” Saharosa said. “We hug each other, strengthen each other and continue to pray.”

Municipal officials in Cianjur evacuate an injured colleague following the earthquake.

Herman Suharman, a government official in Cianjur, told media that some residents were trapped in the rubble of the collapsed buildings. News channel Metro TV showed hundreds of victims being treated in the hospital parking lot.

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Television footage showed residents huddling outside buildings, according to Reuters.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited the quake-hit areas on Tuesday, said compensation of up to $3,200 each would be given to owners of heavily damaged homes.

Houses should be rebuilt as earthquake-resistant structures, Jokowi added.

A resident, named as Muchlis, said he felt “a huge tremor” and that the walls and ceiling of his office were damaged.

“I was very shocked. I was afraid of another earthquake,” he told Metro TV.

Workers inspect an earthquake-damaged school in Siangjur, West Java.

Indonesia’s meteorological center BMKG has warned of the risk of landslides, especially if there is heavy rain, as 25 aftershocks were recorded in the first two hours after the quake.

Rescuers could not immediately reach some of the trapped people and the situation remained chaotic, he said.

Government officials are building tents and shelters for the victims while meeting their basic needs.

Cianjur school building collapsed following the earthquake.

Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean, causing frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most seismically active zones on the planet, it stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific to California and South America on the other.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.

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