GYANGUR, Indonesia (Reuters) – A 5.6-magnitude earthquake killed more than 60 people and injured hundreds in Indonesia’s West Java province on Monday, as rescuers tried to reach survivors trapped under rubble amid a series of aftershocks.
The epicenter was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, 75 km southeast of the capital, Jakarta, where some buildings shook and some offices were evacuated.
Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said 62 people were killed. It added that at least 25 people were trapped under collapsed buildings.
BNPB spokesman Abdul Mahari said the search would continue throughout the night.
“Many buildings collapsed and smashed,” Ridwan Kamil, the governor of West Java, told reporters.
“There are residents trapped in isolated places… so we assume that the number of injured and deaths will increase with the passage of time,” he added.
Indonesia lies on both sides of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active area where different plates meet on the Earth’s crust and cause a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.
The office said more than 2,200 homes had been damaged and more than 5,300 people had been displaced.
Electricity was out and communications efforts were disrupted, said Hermann Suhrmann, the head of the Cianjur government, adding that the landslide had obstructed evacuations in one area.
Hundreds of victims were being treated in the hospital’s parking garage, some under an emergency tent. Elsewhere in Cianjur, residents huddled together on mats in open fields or in tents while the buildings around them were almost entirely reduced to rubble.
Officials are still working to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, according to the Weather and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
Fanny, who was being treated at Cianjur Main Hospital, told Metro TV that the walls of her house collapsed during an aftershock.
She said, “The walls and the wardrobe have fallen…and flattened everything, and I don’t even know where Mom and Dad are.”
BMKG said 25 aftershocks were recorded within two hours, adding that there are concerns about more landslides if heavy rains occur.
Reuters witnesses said some people in Jakarta vacated offices in the central business district, while others reported buildings shaking and furniture moving.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.
Additional reporting by Tommy Ardianceyah, Aging Dinar Olviana and Johan Purnomo in Cianjur, Ananda Theresia, Gayatri Suroyo and Francesca Nangui in Jakarta. Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Kim Coghill, Toby Chopra and Nick McPhee
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