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Indonesia quake kills scores, reduces homes to rubble

A woman walks past a damaged house following an earthquake in Cianjur on 21 November, 2022.

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A woman walks past a damaged house following an earthquake in Cianjur on 21 November, 2022.
Photo: AFP

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake has killed more than 160 people and injured hundreds in Indonesia’s West Java province, with rescuers trying to reach survivors trapped under the rubble amid a series of aftershocks.

The epicentre was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, about 75 km southeast of the capital, Jakarta, where some buildings shook and some offices were evacuated.

West Java governor Ridwan Kamil said the death toll had risen to 162 with hundreds injured and over 13,000 displaced, local media Kompas.com and Detik.com reported.

The latest data from Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) had shown 62 killed in the quake. At least 25 people were trapped under collapsed buildings, it said.

BNPB spokesperson Abdul Muhari said the search would continue through the night.

“So many buildings crumbled and shattered,” Ridwan Kamil told reporters.

“There are residents trapped in isolated places … so we are under the assumption that the number of injured and deaths will rise with time.”

Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the Earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

Injured people rest under a tent outside a hospital, following an earthquake in Cianjur on 21 November 2022.

Injured people rest under a tent outside a hospital, following an earthquake in Cianjur.
Photo: AFP

The BNPB said more than 2200 houses had been damaged and more than 5300 people had been displaced.

Electricity was down and disrupting communications efforts, Herman Suherman, head of Cianjur’s government, said, adding that a landslide was blocking evacuations in one area.

Hundreds of victims were being treated in a hospital parking lot, some under an emergency tent. Elsewhere in Cianjur, residents huddled together on mats in open fields or in tents while buildings around them had been reduced almost entirely to rubble.

Officials were still working to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km, according to the weather and geophysics agency (BMKG).

Vani, who was being treated at Cianjur main hospital, told MetroTV that the walls of her house collapsed during an aftershock.

“The walls and wardrobe just fell… Everything was flattened, I don’t even know the whereabouts of my mother and father,” she said.

Within two hours, 25 aftershocks had been recorded, BMKG said, adding there were concerns about more landslides in the event of heavy rain.

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

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

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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