Rescuers are digging through the debris on Tuesday to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes and buildings in a densely populated area of Indonesia’s West Java province, killing dozens of people.
Monday’s earthquake killed 62 people, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), although earlier West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said more than 160 people had been killed. . The reason for the discrepancy remains unclear.
The magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck the Cianjur region in West Java around 1:21 p.m. local time Monday at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), causing the collapse of buildings during schoolyards. were in progress.
Photos showed buildings reduced to rubble, with bricks and shattered pieces of metal strewn across the streets. More than 700 people were injured and thousands more displaced, according to the BNPB.
“The majority of those who died were children,” Kamil told reporters on Monday, adding that the death toll was likely to rise further. “So many incidents have happened in several Islamic schools.”
The powerful tremors forced children to flee their classrooms, according to aid group Save the Children, which said more than 50 schools were affected.
Mia Saharosa, a teacher at one of the affected schools, said the earthquake “came as a shock to all of us”, according to the group.
“We all gathered in the field, the children were terrified and crying, worried about their families back home,” Saharosa said. “We stick together, we grow stronger and we keep praying.”
Herman Suherman, a government official in Cianjur, told media that some residents were trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. The Metro TV news channel showed what appeared to be hundreds of victims being treated in a hospital parking lot.
Television footage showed residents huddled in front of buildings almost completely reduced to rubble, according to Reuters.
A resident, named only as Muchlis, said he felt “a huge tremor” and the walls and ceiling of his office were damaged.
“I was very shocked. I was worried there would be another earthquake,” he told Metro TV.
The Indonesian meteorological office, BMKG, warned of a risk of landslides, especially in the event of heavy rains, since 25 aftershocks were recorded in the first two hours after the earthquake.
Rescuers were unable to immediately reach some of the trapped people, he said, adding that the situation remains chaotic.
Government authorities are constructing tents and shelters for the victims while meeting their basic needs.
Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire”, a band around the Pacific Ocean that triggers frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most active seismic zones on the planet, it stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific to California and South America on the other.
In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the ocean coast Indian, more than half of them in Indonesia.