Indonesia: West Java earthquake death toll rises to 268 as over 100 remain missing

rescuers inspect a school damaged by earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia,
Rescuers inspect a school damaged by earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. Credit: AP

The death toll from an earthquake that shook the Indonesian island of Java leapt to 268 on Tuesday as more bodies were found beneath collapsed buildings.

The 5.6 magnitude quake hit Indonesia's densely populated main island on Monday, forcing hundreds to flee into the streets, some covered in blood and debris.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has reported that the quake injured 1,083, while 151 people are still missing. Local media outlet said around 13,000 people have been displaced.

Emergency workers could be seen treating the injured on stretchers outside hospitals and in carparks in the Cianjur region, which is about three hours from the capital, Java.

Many of the dead were public school students who had finished their classes for the day and were taking extra lessons at Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said.

“I fainted. It was very strong," said Hasan, a construction worker who, like many Indonesians, uses one name.

“I saw my friends running to escape from the building. But it was too late to get out and I was hit by the wall.”

Earthquake survivors are treated outside of a hospital in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. Credit: AP

The quakes also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, where high-rise buildings swayed and some people evacuated.

Rescue teams and civilians in Cianjur were looking for people buried in collapsed brick homes. In many homes, chunks of concrete and roof tiles fell inside bedrooms.

Shopkeeper Dewi Risma was working with customers when the quake hit, and she ran for the exit.

Earthquake survivors are treated outside of a hospital in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. Credit: AP

“The vehicles on the road stopped because the quake was very strong," she said.

"I felt it shook three times, but the first one was the strongest one for around 10 seconds. The roof of the shop next to the store I work in had collapsed, and people said two had been hit.”

Several landslides closed roads around the Cianjur district. Among the dozens of buildings that were damaged was an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities, the agency said. Power outages were reported.

Ridwan Kamil, West Java governor, said that the local government, national police and Indonesian military were still gathering information.

“Because Cianjur is characterised by many places that are very remote, so we need that data to determine the situation,” Kamil said.

Workers inspect a store damaged during an earthquake in Cianjur. Credit: AP

Most of the victims and survivors were taken to the government hospital in Cianjur.

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.

“The quake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to get out of our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,” said Vidi Primadhania, a worked in the capital, where many residents ran into the streets and others hid under desks.

The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of 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 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.

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