At least 56 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 available data, “56 people were killed and more than 700 injured,” Ridwan Kamil, the governor of West Java province, announced at a press conference broadcast by Kompas TV. “Due to the large number of people still stuck in place, we estimate that the number of people killed and injured will increase,” added the governor.
Continuous influx of victims
Herman Suherman, the head of the administration of the city of Cianjur, near which the epicenter of the earthquake was located, spoke for his part of a continuous influx of victims on the Metro TV channel. According to him, Sayang Hospital in Cianjur has no access to electricity since the earthquake, leaving doctors unable to operate on victims and authorities need more medical staff due to the large number of patients. .
Residents transported the victims to the hospital in pick-up trucks and motorcycles, according to images obtained by AFP. The bodies of those who had died were placed in front of the establishment, under a tarpaulin. “We are currently caring for people who are in emergency situations in this hospital. Ambulances continue to arrive at the hospital from the villages,” said Herman Suherman. “There are many families in villages that have not yet been evacuated.”
Call to stay away
“Hundreds, and possibly even thousands of houses, were damaged” by the quake, said Adam, a spokesman for the administration of Cianjur, who goes by one name like many Indonesians. Shops, a hospital and a Muslim 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. “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 Cianjur, some 100 kilometers south of Jakarta, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which initially estimated the magnitude of the earthquake at 5.4.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage in Jakarta, 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 protective helmets to ward off falling debris, an AFP journalist reported.
series of 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. 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 (center), 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.