Rescuers are digging through the rubble on Tuesday to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes and buildings in a highly populated area of Indonesia’s West Java province, killing dozens of people.
Monday’s quake killed 62 people, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), although earlier West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said more than 160 had died. The reason for the discrepancy remains unclear.
The 5.6-magnitude quake struck the Cianjur region of West Java around 1:21 p.m. local time Monday at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). , causing buildings to collapse while classes were being held at the school. they were running.
The photos showed buildings reduced to rubble, with bricks and broken metal scraps littering the streets. More than 700 people were injured and thousands more displaced, according to the BNPB.
“Most of those who died were children,” Kamil told reporters on Monday, adding that the death toll was likely to rise further. “So many incidents occurred in various Islamic schools.”
Strong tremors forced children to flee their classrooms, according to aid group Save the Children, which said more than 50 schools were affected.
Mia Saharosa, a teacher at one of the affected schools, said the quake “came as a shock to all of us,” according to the group.
“We all gathered in the field, the children were terrified and crying, worried about their families back home,” Saharosa said. “We hugged each other, we strengthened each other and we continued to pray.”
Herman Suherman, a government official in Cianjur, told the media that some residents were trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. The Metro TV news channel showed what appeared to be hundreds of victims being treated in a hospital parking lot.
Television footage showed residents huddled outside buildings almost completely reduced to rubble, according to Reuters.
A resident, identified only as Muchlis, said he felt “a big tremor” and that 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 meteorological office, BMKG, warned of the danger of landslides, particularly in case of heavy rain, as 25 aftershocks were recorded in the first two hours after the quake.
Rescuers were unable to immediately reach some of the trapped, he said, adding that the situation remains chaotic.
Government authorities are building tents and shelters for the victims while attending to their basic needs.
Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire,” a band around the Pacific Ocean that triggers frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most seismically active areas on the planet, it stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific to California and South America on the other.
In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.