Java earthquake death toll rises to 252 as search for survivors continues

Rescue workers in Indonesia said the search for survivors of Monday’s devastating earthquake, which killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds more, will continue through the night.

The earthquake, followed by several aftershocks, shook the country’s largest island, Java, damaged buildings and sent people seeking safety.

A spokesman for the local government in West Java said on Tuesday that the death toll had risen to 252. 31 people are missing and 300 injured.

Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said more than 2,200 homes were damaged and more than 5,300 people were displaced.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.6 quake hit the Cianjur region of West Java province at a depth of 10 kilometers. The weather and geophysics agency BMKG said there was no chance of a tsunami.

Cianjur is located about 75 kilometers south of Jakarta and the quake was strongly felt in the capital and surroundings.

Hundreds of victims were treated in a hospital parking lot, some under an emergency tent. Ambulances arrived at the hospital late into the night, bringing more people to hospital.

Herman Suherman, head of the city government of Cianjur, West Java, previously told news channel Metro TV that “at least” 300 people were being treated in one hospital in the city alone. “Most of them have broken bones after being trapped in the rubble of buildings,” he said.

Relatives of the victims gathered at Sayang Hospital, he added, warning villagers could still be trapped in the rubble and many families in villages have not yet been evacuated.

Thousands of homes damaged

Authorities had previously reported rescuing a woman and baby trapped in a landslide in Cianjur.

“Dozens of people have been killed. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of houses have been damaged,” a spokesman for the government of the West Java city of Cianjur told AFP.

The damaged buildings include an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities, BNPB chief Suharyanto said.

Footage from Metro TV showed some buildings in Cianjur almost completely in ruins as concerned residents huddled outside.

Buildings sway in Jakarta

In Jakarta, in the north, tall buildings swayed and some were evacuated.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage in the capital, but people stormed out of the buildings. Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described the panic of workers rushing to the emergency exits.

“I was working when the ground shook. I could clearly feel the tremor,” she said.

“The earthquake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to leave our office on the ninth floor via the emergency staircase,” says Vidi Primadhania, a staff member in South Jakarta.

Earthquakes are common in the vast archipelago, but it is uncommon for them to be felt in Jakarta.

The country is vulnerable due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates converge.

In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.

In 2018, the island of Lombok and the neighboring island of Sumbawa were hit by a violent earthquake that killed more than 550 people.

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