At least 162 dead and hundreds injured in a strong earthquake in Indonesia | International
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At least 162 people have died and 700 have been injured after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook the Indonesian city of Cianjur on the island of Java on Monday, according to the governor of the West Java province (50 million of inhabitants), Ridwan Kamil. Authorities are working to determine the extent of what happened and Kamil has warned that the death toll could rise. At the moment there are hundreds of victims who are being treated in hospitals.
Herman Suherman, head of the administration of Cianjur (170,000 inhabitants), told Metro TV that the staff at the Sayang hospital in Cianjur was overwhelmed, the facilities lacked electricity and the doctors did not have the necessary conditions to be able to operate on the victims. . “We need more health personnel to care for the large number of those affected,” added the head of the local administration.
The epicenter of the earthquake was recorded near the town of Cianjur, located about 75 kilometers southeast of Jakarta, the country’s capital. The Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) explained that the earthquake occurred at 1:21 p.m. local time (07:21 a.m. in mainland Spain), at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, and that 62 aftershocks occurred in Cianjur, with magnitudes of between 1.8 and 4 on the Richter scale. The BMKG has added that there is no risk of a tsunami. In Jakarta some people were evacuated from the main business district, witnesses told the Reuters agency, but despite the fact that the shock was also felt, no casualties or significant damage have been recorded.
Hundreds of victims were being treated in the car park of a Cianjur hospital, some under an emergency tent. In other parts of the city, residents huddled on mats on esplanades or in tents.
Suherman told Metro TV: “Most have fractures after being found trapped in the rubble of buildings.” Vani, a patient at Cianjur’s main hospital, told MetroTV that her house collapsed during an aftershock. “The walls and the closet collapsed… Everything was crushed,” Vani said, adding that she did not know the whereabouts of her parents.
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The spokesman for the national disaster agency (BNPB), Abdul Muhari, has said that 23 people were probably still trapped under the rubble of the collapsed buildings and puts 13,000 people who have been forced to leave their homes. Muhari has clarified that more than 2,200 houses, several shops, four government buildings, three schools, a hospital, a church and an Islamic boarding school have been damaged in the city of Cianjur. Metro TV footage has shown some city buildings reduced almost completely to rubble as concerned residents remained outside.
Agus Azhari, a 19-year-old boy, was with his mother in the family home when the living room was destroyed in a matter of seconds. The walls collapsed and the ceiling caved in around them. “I grabbed my mother by the hand and we ran outside. I heard people screaming and asking for help everywhere around me,” the young man explained to Agence France Presse.
Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described the panic of the workers, running to the emergency exits of the affected buildings. Waluyo told Agence France Presse: “I was working when the ground trembled. I could clearly feel the jolt. There are many families in the villages that could not be evacuated”.
The quake has caused the closure of many roads and highways in the region and a power outage that has affected the city, according to BMKG. Authorities are working to try to “restore power quickly.” Suherman explained: “Once it has been verified that there were no aftershocks, the officers have moved to the field to normalize the conditions of the electrical network.”
Indonesia frequently registers earthquakes, since it is located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area with strong seismic activity, where different plates of the earth’s crust collide. In 2018, on the island of Lombok and the neighboring island of Sumbawa, a violent earthquake caused more than 550 deaths. That same year, another earthquake, measuring 7.5 magnitude, triggered a tsunami that hit Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, killing or missing 4,300 people. In 2006, the island of Java suffered a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in the center. There were 6,000 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. The biggest catastrophe recorded so far was in 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, plus half of them in Indonesia.
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