Photo: The Canadian Press
Earthquake survivors are treated outside of a hospital in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia.
A powerful earthquake killed at least 162 people and injured hundreds on Indonesia’s main island on Monday. Terrified residents fled into the street, some covered in blood and debris.
Many of the dead were public-school students who had finished their classes for the day and were taking extra lessons at several Islamic schools when they collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said as he announced the new death toll in the remote, rural area.
The toll is expected to rise further, but no estimates were immediately available because of the area’s far-flung, rural population. Roughly 175,000 people live in the town of Cianjur, part of a mountainous district of the same name with more than 2.5 million people. Known for their piety, the people of Cianjur live mostly in towns of one- and two-story buildings and in smaller homes in the surrounding countryside.
Kamil said that more than 13,000 people whose homes were heavily damaged were taken to evacuation centers.
Emergency workers treated the injured on stretchers and blankets outside hospitals, on terraces and in parking lots in the Cianjur region, about three hours drive from the capital, Java. The injured, including children, were given oxygen masks and IV lines. Some were resuscitated.
“I fainted. It was very strong,” said Hasan, a construction worker who, like many Indonesians, uses one name. “I saw my friends running to escape from the building. But it was too late to get out and I was hit by the wall. “
Residents, some crying and holding their children, fled damaged homes after the magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook the region in West Java province in the late afternoon, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, where high-rises swayed and some people evacuated.
In many homes in Cianjur, chunks of concrete and roof tiles fell inside bedrooms.
Shopkeeper Dewi Risma was working with customers when the earthquake hit, and she ran for the exit.
“The vehicles on the road stopped because the earthquake was very strong,” she said. “I felt it shook three times, but the first one was the strongest one for around 10 seconds. The roof of the shop next to the store I work in had collapsed, and people said two had been hit.”
Twenty-five people were still buried in the debris in Cijedil village, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said earlier in the day.
Several landslides closed roads around the Cianjur district. Among the dozens of buildings that were damaged was a hospital, the agency said. Power outages were reported.
Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.
“The earthquake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to get out of our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,” said Vidi Primadhania, a worker in the capital, where many residents ran into the streets and others hid under desks.
The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
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.
A powerful Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.