Home News Earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, kills dozens of Indonesians

Earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, kills dozens of Indonesians

Earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, kills dozens of Indonesians
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MEDAN, Indonesia — At least 56 people have been killed following a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Indonesia’s West Java province at 1:21 p.m. local time on Monday, local officials said.

Herman Suherman, head of the regency of Cianjur, near the epicenter of the disaster, said Monday evening that 56 people have died and 700 have been injured in the quake, which is believed to be the deadliest this year in earthquake-prone Indonesia. He added that the numbers would likely rise as more people were found under the rubble.

“The majority of those who died were hit by buildings. Some were hit in the head,” he said. “All you can hear here is ambulance sirens everywhere.”

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Local television footage showed scenes of chaos as crowds of injured people, some bandaged and bleeding, rushed to hospitals and clinics for treatment. Some were transported in ambulances, but others, including young children, were brought in on motorbikes or carried by relatives, witnesses said.

Patients at Cianjur Hospital, some on stretchers, had to be evacuated outside for fear the building would collapse. Some members of the crowd ran inside to retrieve tables and other equipment to carry the injured to safety, residents said.

Ricky Susan, a local reporter in Cianjur, said he was having coffee at the military barracks when the quake hit. By the time he had fled outside, the building behind him was still shaking violently, and on the other side of the barracks, a convenience store had been destroyed.

“I saw a group of convenience store workers standing outside the ruins, and they were all crying,” he said. “They told me one of them didn’t make it and was buried in the rubble.”

Suharyanto, head of the National Disaster Management Agency, said the priority was to rescue the injured and take them for treatment. Like many Indonesians, he has only one name.

Access to the affected area will likely be a problem after the earthquake, which appears to have significantly damaged infrastructure in the area. Electricity and cell service were spotty in parts of Cianjur.

Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency, told a press conference that the earthquake caused a landslide on the outskirts of Cianjur, cutting off road access to the nearby pass of Cianjur. Puncak, a mountain road in West Java.

She added that there had been 45 recorded aftershocks, but there had been no tsunami warning.

The quake was reportedly felt in nearby towns of Sukabumi and Bandung. Residents of the capital, Jakarta, about 100 kilometers northwest of Cianjur, also felt strong tremors as the quake struck and some buildings were evacuated.

Indonesia is in a seismic zone and frequently experiences earthquakes, which can cause significant casualties, especially when followed by tsunamis. In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake followed by a tsunami in the central island of Sulawesi killed more than 2,000 people, according to the United Nations. In 2009, an earthquake that hit South Sumatra killed 1,117 people.

Indonesia also often experiences extreme weather events and other natural disasters towards the end of the year, when it is hit by heavy monsoon rains, which can cause flooding and mudslides.

“We must remain vigilant,” Ridwan Kamil, governor of West Java province, told local reporters, adding that the government was ready to respond to any aftershocks or other emergencies.

“It’s disaster season at the end of the year, which is scary,” he added.

Rebecca Tan in Singapore contributed to this report.


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