Cianjur (West Java): A man gestures towards houses damaged after a devastating earthquake hit Indonesia on Monday.—Reuters
Cianjur (West Java): A man gestures towards houses damaged after a devastating earthquake hit Indonesia on Monday.—Reuters

CIANJUR: A 5.6-magnitude earthquake killed 162 people, with hundreds others injured and missing, when it toppled buildings and triggered landslides on Indonesia’s main island of Java on Monday, with rescuers trying to reach survivors trapped under the rubble amid a series of aftershocks, local media Kompas.com and Detik.com reported, citing West Java governor Ridwan Kamil.

The epicentre was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, about 75km southeast of the capital, Jakarta, where some buildings shook and some offices were evacuated. Doctors treated patients outdoors after the quake, which was felt as far away as the capital Jakarta, left hospitals in Cianjur without power for several hours.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency BNP-B spokesperson Abdul Muhari said the search would continue through the night.

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

PM Shehbaz, FM Bilawal condole with victims, their families

“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.

The BNPB said more than 2,200 houses had been damaged and more than 5,300 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 10km, 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.

PM, FM saddened

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday expressed his condolences with Indonesian President Joko Widodo over the loss of lives in an earthquake in Java region of Indonesia.

“Saddened by the tragic loss of precious lives in an earthquake that struck Java region of Indonesia,” the prime minister said in a tweet posted on his social media account.

“We, in Pakistan, offer our heartfelt condolences and most sincere sympathies to H.E. President Joko Widodo, the bereaved families and the brotherly people of Indonesia,” Mr Sharif said. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also expressed his grief over the loss of lives in Indonesia earthquake.

“Tragic news of the earthquake and resultant loss of precious lives in Indonesia. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers for our Indonesian brothers and sisters, especially families of the victims,” the foreign minister said in a twitter post.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2022

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