Indonesia earthquake: Search underway as 5.6 magnitude quake kills over 200 in West Java

Indonesia earthquake: Search underway as 5.6 magnitude quake kills over 200 in West Java
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Jakarta, Indonesia

Rescuers were digging through rubble on Tuesday to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes and buildings in a highly populated area of ​​Indonesia’s West Java province, killing at least 268 people.

Another 151 people are still missing and more than 1,000 injured, the country’s National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) said.

The 5.6-magnitude quake struck the Cianjur region of West Java around 1:21 p.m. local time Monday at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). , causing buildings to collapse while classes were being held at the school. they were on their way.

The scale of death and destruction caused by the quake became increasingly clear on Tuesday, after officials reported earlier discrepancies in the reported death toll.

More than 22,000 homes were destroyed and more than 58,000 people displaced, BNPB Major General Suharyanto said on Tuesday.

A villager looks at damaged houses in Cianjur on November 22, 2022.

The photos showed buildings reduced to rubble, with bricks and broken metal scraps littering the streets.

“Most of those who died were children,” West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters on Monday, adding that the death toll was likely to rise further. “So many incidents happened in various Islamic schools.”

Villagers salvage items from damaged houses after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in Cianjur on November 22, 2022.

Strong tremors forced children to flee their classrooms, according to aid group Save the Children, which said more than 50 schools were affected.

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

“We all gathered in the field, the children were terrified and crying, worried about their families back home,” Saharosa said. “We hugged each other, strengthened each other and kept praying.”

Cianjur municipal officials evacuate an injured colleague after the earthquake.

Herman Suherman, a government official in Cianjur, told the media that some residents were trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. The Metro TV news channel showed what appeared to be hundreds of victims being treated in a hospital parking lot.

Television footage showed residents huddled outside buildings almost completely reduced to rubble, according to Reuters.

Visiting quake-hit areas on Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the government would provide compensation of up to about $3,200 to each owner of severely damaged homes.

The houses must be rebuilt as earthquake-resistant buildings, Jokowi added.

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

“I was very shocked. I was worried that there would be another earthquake,” he told Metro TV.

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

Indonesia’s meteorological office, BMKG, warned of the danger of landslides, particularly in case of heavy rain, as 25 aftershocks were recorded in the first two hours after the quake.

Rescuers were unable to immediately reach some of the trapped, he said, adding that the situation remains chaotic.

Government authorities are building tents and shelters for the victims while attending to their basic needs.

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered his “deepest condolences” following the loss of life while speaking at the ASEAN multilateral meeting in Cambodia on Tuesday.

A Cianjur school building collapsed after the earthquake.

Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire,” a band around the Pacific Ocean that triggers frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most seismically active areas 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 magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.

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