Earthquake in Indonesia leaves dozens dead, houses reduced to rubble and hundreds injured

CIANJUR, Indonesia, Nov 21 (Reuters) – A magnitude 5.6 earthquake killed more than 60 people and injured hundreds in Indonesia’s West Java province on Monday. Rescue workers tried to reach survivors trapped under the rubble amid a series of aftershocks.

The epicenter was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, about 75 km southeast of the capital Jakarta, where some buildings shook and some offices were evacuated.

Indonesia’s Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said 62 people were killed. At least 25 people were trapped under collapsed buildings.

BNPB spokesman Abdul Muhari said the search would continue through the night.

“So many buildings have collapsed and shattered,” West Java governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters.

“Residents are trapped in isolated places…so we assume that the number of injuries and deaths will increase over time.”

Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where several plates on the Earth’s crust meet and generate a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

The BNPB said more than 2,200 homes were damaged and more than 5,300 people were displaced.

An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale hit the Indonesian island of Java on Monday

The electricity went out and disrupted communications efforts, said Herman Suherman, head of the Cianjur government, adding that a landslide blocked evacuations in one area.

Hundreds of victims were treated in a hospital parking lot, some under an emergency tent. Elsewhere in Cianjur, residents huddled on mats in open fields or in tents, while buildings around them lay almost in ruins.

Officials were still trying to determine the full extent of damage caused by the quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km, according to the Weather and Geophysics Bureau (BMKG).

Vani, who was being treated at Cianjur’s main hospital, told MetroTV that the walls of her home collapsed during an aftershock.

“The walls and the wardrobe just fell… Everything was razed to the ground, I don’t even know where my mom and dad are,” she said.

Within two hours, 25 aftershocks had been recorded, BMKG said, adding that there were concerns about more landslides in the event of heavy rain.

In Jakarta, some people evacuated offices in the central business district, while others reported shaking buildings and moving furniture, Reuters witnesses said.

In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coastline, more than half of them in Indonesia.

Reporting by Tommy Ardiansyah, Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana and Johan Purnomo in Cianjur, Ananda Teresia, Gayatri Suroyo, Fransiska Nangoy in Jakarta Written by Ed Davies and Kate Lamb; Edited by Kanupriya Kapoor, Kim Coghill, Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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