According to preliminary official information, an earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more on Monday. At least 162 people were killed, the region's governor, Ridwan Kamil, said on Monday evening. At least 326 people were injured. According to the city administration, around 2,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged by the 5.6-magnitude quake, and thousands of people lost their homes.
Some areas are still inaccessible due to landslides. In addition, many of the injured could not be treated because there were not enough staff available, said the chief of authorities in the most affected city of Cianjur, Herman Suherman. "Most have broken bones after being found trapped under rubble."
Because of the power failure, no earthquake victims could initially be operated on in the local hospital. In view of the enormous number of injuries, additional medical personnel are now needed, because the injured are still being taken to the hospital on motorcycles or flatbed trucks.
Since more people are suspected to be under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the number of victims could also continue to rise, Suherman said.
Local media reported severe damage to a hospital, an Islamic boarding school and various businesses. Several broadcasters showed images of buildings in Cianjur whose roofs had collapsed. "Hundreds, maybe even thousands of houses were damaged," said the spokesman for the city of Cianjur.
The US Earthquake Monitor (USGS) gave the magnitude of the quake as 5.6. The epicenter was therefore near Cianjur in the province of West Java. Indonesia's meteorological agency warned people in the hardest-hit region of aftershocks. They should remain outdoors for the time being, said agency chief Dwikorita Karnawati.
The earthquake also caused high-rise buildings in the capital Jakarta, around 100 kilometers to the south, to sway. People ran outside in panic, but there were initially no reports of major damage or injuries from the capital.
"I was working when the ground shook under me," said lawyer Mayadita Waluyo, describing the earthquake. She then ran down the stairs from the 14th floor. Hundreds of people in Jakarta stayed outside after the earthquake as a precaution, a journalist from the AFP news agency reported. Some of them wore helmets to protect themselves from falling parts of the building.
Because of Indonesia's location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common in the Southeast Asian country. In January last year, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi, killing more than 100 people. Thousands of people lost their homes.
In 2018, more than 550 people died in an earthquake on the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa. In the same year, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck Sulawesi: Around 4,300 people died or have been missing since then. The 9.1 magnitude earthquake that struck on December 26, 2004 off the coast of Sumatra is still remembered. The resulting tsunami killed 220,000 people across the region, 170,000 of them in Indonesia alone.