Strong earthquake knocks down houses in Indonesia; there are hundreds of dead

A strong, shallow earthquake toppled buildings and collapsed walls on Monday on Indonesia’s densely populated main island of Java, leaving at least 56 dead and hundreds injured as people poured into the streets, some covered in blood and white debris.

Emergency workers tended to the wounded on stretchers and blankets outside the main hospitals, on terraces and parking lots. Many included children, some of whom received oxygen masks, IVs, and were being resuscitated.

“I fainted. It was very strong,” said Hasan, a construction worker being treated at Cianjur Regional Hospital. “I saw my friends running to escape the building. But I was too late to get out and I hit the wall.”

Residents, some crying with children in their arms, fled their damaged homes after the 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the Cianjur region of West Java province in the late afternoon at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 .2 miles). It also caused panic in the Jakarta metropolitan area, where skyscrapers wobbled and some were evacuated.

Rescue teams and civilians in Cianjur were searching for others who may have been buried in the rubble of collapsed brick houses. The quake was powerful enough to bring down walls, chunks of concrete and tiles, some of which fell into rooms.

The shopkeeper Dewi Risma was working with customers when the quake struck and ran towards the exit.

“Vehicles on the highway stopped because the earthquake was very strong,” he said. “I felt it shake three times, but the first time was the strongest for about 10 seconds. The roof of the store next to the store I work at collapsed and people said two had been hit.”

Herman Suherman, head of the Cianjur regency, said the death toll reached 56 on Monday night. About 700 were injured, said the head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, Suharyanto.

Several landslides were reported around Cianjur. Among the dozens of buildings damaged were an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities, the agency said.

Information on the extent of casualties and damage was still being collected.

Most of the victims and survivors were taken to the Cianjur public hospital, where emergency tents were set up and workers treated the injured.

The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.

“The earthquake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to leave our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,” said Vidi Primadhania, an employee in South Jakarta in the capital area, where many residents ran into the streets and others hid below. from the desks in their offices. .

Earthquakes occur frequently in the sprawling archipelago nation, but it’s rare for them to be felt in Jakarta.

The country of more than 270 million people is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on the “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific basin.

In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.

A powerful earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.