At least 44 people died and hundreds more were injured in a 5.6-magnitude earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java on Monday that shook skyscrapers as far away as the capital Jakarta.
“Dozens of people have been killed… To date, 44 people have died,” Adam, a spokesman for the Cianjur (West Java) municipality, told AFP. , who, like many Indonesians, only has a first name.
“Hundreds, maybe even thousands of houses were damaged by the quake,” he added.
The previous toll was nearly 20 dead. Herman Suherman, Cianjur’s chief administrative officer, told Metro TV that “at least” 300 people were being treated at a single hospital in the city.
“Most have broken bones after getting stuck in the rubble of buildings,” he said.
According to local press, shops, a hospital and an Islamic boarding school in the city suffered major damage as a result of the earthquake.
Media showed several buildings in Cianjur whose roofs had collapsed.
Mr Suherman also reported that relatives of the victims were gathered at Sayang Hospital and warned that the toll could go up as villagers could still be trapped in the rubble.
“There are many families in villages that have not yet been evacuated.”
Authorities previously reported the rescue of a woman and baby trapped in a landslide in Cianjur.
“We urge people to stay outside of buildings for the time being due to possible aftershocks,” Dwikorita Karnawati, director of the Indonesian Meteorological Agency, told reporters.
Building evacuated in Jakarta
The epicenter was near this city, about 100 kilometers south of Jakarta, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The American geological service USGS had initially estimated the magnitude of the quake at 5.4.
No casualties or major damage were immediately reported in Jakarta, but people stormed out of buildings in the capital. Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old attorney, described the panic of staff rushing to the emergency exits.
“I was working when the ground was shaking. I could clearly feel the shaking,” she said.
Hundreds of people waited outside after the quake, some wearing hard hats to protect themselves from falling debris, an AFP journalist reported.
Indonesia regularly faces earthquakes or volcanic eruptions due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where the tectonic plates meet.
In 2018, the island of Lombok and the neighboring island of Sumbawa were hit by a powerful earthquake that killed more than 550 people.
That same year, another 7.5 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami that hit Palu on the island of Sulawesi, killing or disappearing 4,300 people.
For its part, the island of Java was hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake near the city of Yogyakarta (middle) in 2006, killing around 6,000 and injuring tens of thousands.
A year earlier, more than 900 people died in an 8.7-magnitude earthquake on the regularly affected coast of Sumatra.
However, the country remains scarred by the December 26, 2004 earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 off the coast of Sumatra.
It caused a large tsunami that killed 220,000 people across the region, including 170,000 in Indonesia alone, one of the deadliest natural disasters on record.