More than 160 killed in the Indonesia earthquake, and the search for survivors continues

CIAANUR, Indonesia (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake killed more than 160 people in Indonesia’s West Java province on Monday, as rescuers searched for survivors trapped under rubble amid a series of aftershocks.

The epicenter of the quake, which measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, 75 km southeast of the capital, Jakarta. The region is home to more than 2.5 million people.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said on Instagram that 162 people had been killed and 326 wounded.

Indonesia’s Disaster Reduction Agency (BNPB) still put the death toll at 62 and rescuers were searching for 25 believed to be trapped under the rubble and its spokesperson said the search would continue through the night.

Radwan told reporters that since many buildings collapsed, the death toll could rise.

“There are residents trapped in isolated places… so we assume that the number of injured and deaths will increase with the passage of time,” he added.

Indonesia lies on both sides of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active area where different plates meet on the Earth’s crust and cause a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

The office said more than 2,200 homes had been damaged and more than 5,300 people had been displaced. Radwan put this figure at 13,000 and said they would be deployed to various evacuation centers across Cianjur.

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Java on Monday

The authorities said that the electricity was cut off, which disrupted communications, while landslides impeded evacuations in some areas.

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Hundreds of victims were being treated in the hospital’s parking garage, some under an emergency tent. Elsewhere in Cianjur, residents huddled together on mats in open fields or in tents while buildings around them were reduced to rubble.

Ambulances were still arriving at the hospital late at night, bringing more people to the hospital.

Officials are still working to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, according to the Weather and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

Fanny, who was being treated at Cianjur Main Hospital, told Metro TV that the walls of her house collapsed during an aftershock.

She said, “The walls and the wardrobe have fallen…and flattened everything, and I don’t even know where Mom and Dad are.”

Radwan said 88 aftershocks were recorded while the meteorological agency BMKG warned of more landslides in case of heavy rains.

Coco, 48, was looking for one of her seven children.

“The kids were downstairs and I was doing laundry upstairs,” she said. “Everything is crumbling under me… One of my kids is still missing.”

Reuters witnesses said some people in Jakarta left their offices in the central business district, while others reported buildings shaking and furniture moving.

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

Additional reporting by Yohan Purnomo, Aging Dinar Olviana and Tommy Ardaensyah in Cianjur, Ananda Teresia and Gayatri Suroyo and Francisca Nangui in Jakarta. Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Kim Coghill, Toby Chopra, Nick McPhee and Thomas Janowski

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