Earthquake Kills 56, Injures Hundreds In Indonesia

An earthquake has struck the main Indonesian island of Java, leaving at least 56 people dead and hundreds injured, local officials say.

The 5.6 magnitude quake struck Cianjur town in West Java, at a shallow depth of 10km (six miles), according to US Geological Survey data.

Videos on social media showed some buildings reduced almost entirely to rubble and debris strewn on streets.

Officials warn of possible aftershocks and said the death toll could rise.

The area where the quake struck is densely populated and prone to landslides, with poorly-built houses. Rescuers have been trying to evacuate people from collapsed buildings, and managed to save a woman and her baby, according to local reports.

West Java governor Ridwan Kamil confirmed to local media that 56 people had died and more than 700 were injured.

He said the numbers of injuries and fatalities are likely to increase because there are “a lot of people” still trapped at the scene, with one area blocked by a landslide.

Earlier Herman Suherman, the head of administration in Cianjur town, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that most injuries were bone fractures sustained from people being trapped by debris in buildings.

“The ambulances keep on coming from the villages to the hospital,” he said. “There are many families in villages that have not been evacuated.”

He said more health workers were needed to deal with the overwhelming number of patients and that electricity was down in the area, leaving doctors at the main hospital unable to operate on patients.

Dozens of buildings had been damaged in Cianjur region, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement. They include a hospital and an Islamic boarding school.

The tremor could also be felt in the capital Jakarta about 100km away, where people in high-rise buildings were evacuated.

Office workers rushed out of buildings in the civic and business district during the tremor, which started at 13:21 Western Indonesian time (WIT) on Monday, the agency said.

“I was working when the floor under me was shaking. I could feel the tremor clearly. I tried to do nothing to process what it was, but it became even stronger and lasted for some time,” lawyer Mayadita Waluyo told AFP.

An office worker named Ahmad Ridwan told news agency Reuters: “We are used to this [earthquakes] in Jakarta, but people were so nervous just now, so we also panicked.”

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, which sits on the “ring of fire” area of tectonic activity in the Pacific. The country has a history of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, with more than 2,000 killed in a 2018 Sulawesi quake.

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