Rescue workers in Indonesia are rushing to reach people still trapped in the rubble after an earthquake devastated a West Java town on Monday, killing dozens and injuring hundreds. buildings collapsed.
The epicenter of the shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale was located close to the city of Cianjur in a mountainous region of West Java, Indonesia’s most populous province.
Overnight, a hospital parking lot in Cianjur was flooded with victims, some treated in makeshift tents, others hooked up to intravenous IVs on the sidewalk, while medical staff stitched up patients under torchlight.
“Everything collapsed under me and I was crushed under this child,” Cucu, a 48-year-old resident who had gone to hospital, told Reuters news agency.
“Two of my children survived, I dug them up… Two others I brought here, and one is still missing,” she said with tears in her eyes.
By Tuesday morning, hundreds of police officers had been deployed to assist in rescue efforts, Dedi Prasetyo, a spokesman for the national police, told the state news agency Antara.
“Today’s main job assignment for personnel is to focus on evacuating casualties,” he said
West Java governor Ridwan Kamil said Monday’s earthquake killed at least 162 people, many of them children, and injured more than 300. Indonesia’s national disaster agency (BNPB) said it had confirmed the deaths of 62 people, but not an additional 100 victims.
The governor warned that some residents were trapped in isolated places and the death toll could rise.
Authorities assumed the number of injured and dead will rise over time, he said.
Landslides, power outages
Save the Children Indonesia said it was sending a team to the area on Tuesday to assess the impact of the disaster and assess the needs of affected children and adults. It also prepares school tents, back-to-school kits, educational recreation kits and family hygiene kits for distribution.
At SMP Junior High School 5, one of the schools Save the Children works with in West Java, Mia Saharosa told everyone to evacuate during class.
“It was a shock to all of us when it happened in the middle of the learning process… We all gathered in the field, children were terrified and crying, worried about their families back home. We hug each other, strengthen each other and continue to pray,” she said in a statement from the non-governmental organization.
Officials were working on Tuesday to reach the Cugenang area, which had been cut off by a landslide triggered by the quake.
Rescue efforts were complicated by power outages in some areas and more than 80 aftershocks.
The earthquake, which was strongly felt some 75 kilometers away in the capital Jakarta, damaged at least 2,200 homes and displaced more than 5,000 people, the BNPB said.
Indonesia, which straddles the so-called Ring of Fire, an active seismic zone where several plates of the Earth’s crust meet, has a history of devastating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In September 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck shallow waters off the city of Palu in Sulawesi. caused a tsunami, liquefaction and landslides that destroyed the city and killed more than 4,000 people.
In December 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia triggered a massive tsunami that washed ashore in 14 countries around the Indian Ocean. killing 226,000 peoplemore than half of which in Indonesia.