Rescuers dug through the rubble to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled houses and buildings in a densely populated area of Indonesia’s West Java province on Tuesday, killing at least 268 people.
The country’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said another 151 people were missing and more than 1,000 were injured.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), at around 13:21 local time on Monday, a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the Cianjur region of West Java at a depth of 10 kilometers, collapsing buildings while classes were in session. were going on.
The extent of the death toll and destruction from the earthquake became apparent on Tuesday, as previously reported death tolls did not match official figures.
More than 22,000 houses have been destroyed and more than 58,000 people have been displaced, BNPB Major General Suharyanto said on Tuesday.
The images show buildings in ruins, bricks and broken metal strewn across the streets.
“Most of the dead are children,” West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters on Monday, adding that the death toll could rise. “There have been many incidents in several Islamic schools.”
Save the Children said more than 50 schools were damaged as the powerful earthquake forced children to flee their classrooms.
Mia Saharosa, a teacher at one of the affected schools, told the group that the earthquake was “a shock to all of us”.
“We all gathered in the field, the kids were scared, crying, worried about their families,” Saharosa said. “We hug each other, we encourage each other and we continue to pray.”
Cianjur government representative Herman Suherman told media that some residents were trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. News channel Metro TV showed hundreds of victims being treated in the hospital parking lot.
According to Reuters, television showed residents huddled outside buildings that were almost completely reduced to rubble.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited the quake-hit areas on Tuesday, said the government would provide up to $3,200 in compensation to the owners of severely damaged homes.
Houses should be rebuilt as earthquake-resistant buildings, Jokowi added.
A resident, identified only as Muchlis, said he felt a “huge shake” and the walls and ceiling of his office were damaged.
“I was very shocked. I was worried that there would be another earthquake,” he told Metro TV.
Indonesia’s Bureau of Meteorology, BMKG, warned of the risk of landslides, especially during heavy rains, with 25 aftershocks recorded in the first two hours after the quake.
Rescuers could not immediately reach some of the trapped people, he said, and the situation remained chaotic.
Besides meeting the basic needs of the victims, the government authorities are constructing tents and shelters for them.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed “deep regret” over the deaths while speaking at the ASEAN multilateral meeting in Cambodia on Tuesday.
Indonesia sits on the ‘Ring of Fire’, a group of frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity around the Pacific Ocean. One of the most seismically active zones on the planet, it stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific Ocean to California and South America on the other.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake on the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the coast of the Indian Ocean, more than half of them in Indonesia.