In Indonesia, an earthquake leaves at least 46 dead and hundreds injured

At least 46 people died and hundreds more were injured in a 5.6 magnitude earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java on Monday that shook skyscrapers as far away as the capital Jakarta.

“According to the latest data, 46 people were killed… About 700 people were injured,” Herman Suherman, chief administrative officer of the city of Cianjur in West Java, told Metro TV. continuous influx of victims. He said earlier that ‘at least’ 300 people were being treated at a single hospital in the city. “Most have broken bones after getting stuck in the rubble of buildings,” he told Metro TV.

Shops, a hospital and an Islamic boarding school in the city suffered extensive damage as a result of the earthquake, according to local press. Media showed several buildings in Cianjur whose roofs had collapsed. “Hundreds, and possibly even thousands of homes, were damaged” by the earthquake, said Adam, a spokesman for the administration of Cianjur, who has only a first name like many Indonesians.

Victims in an emergency

Herman Suherman also reported that relatives of the victims were gathered at Sayang Hospital, warning that the toll could rise as villagers could still be trapped in the rubble. “We are currently caring for people who are in emergency situations in this hospital. Ambulances continue to arrive at the hospital from the villages,” he said. “There are many families in villages that have not yet been evacuated.”

Authorities earlier reported rescuing a woman and baby trapped in a landslide in Cianjur. “We urge people to stay outside buildings for now, as there could be possible aftershocks,” Indonesian meteorological agency director Dwikorita Karnawati told reporters.

Buildings evacuated in Jakarta

The epicenter was located near this city some 100 kilometers south of Jakarta, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The American geological survey USGS had initially estimated the magnitude of the earthquake at 5.4.

No casualties or major damage were reported in Jakarta immediately but in the capital, people rushed out of buildings. Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described the panic of employees rushing to the emergency exits. “I was working when the ground shook. I could clearly feel the shaking,” she said.

Hundreds of people waited outside after the quake, some wearing hard hats to protect themselves from falling debris, an AFP journalist reported.

Repeated earthquakes

Indonesia is regularly confronted with earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, due to its position on the Pacific “ring of fire” where the tectonic plates meet.

In 2018, the island of Lombok and the neighboring island of Sumbawa were hit by a violent earthquake which killed more than 550 people. In the same year, another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 caused a tsunami that hit Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, causing the death or disappearance of 4,300 people.

The island of Java had for its part been affected by an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 in 2006, near the city of Yogyakarta (in the center of the country), causing around 6,000 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries.

A year earlier, an 8.7 magnitude earthquake hitting the regularly hit coast of Sumatra killed more than 900 people. But the country remains marked by the earthquake of December 26, 2004 with a magnitude of 9.1 off the coast of Sumatra. It caused a major tsunami that killed 220,000 people across the region, including 170,000 in Indonesia alone, one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.

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