Rescuers were digging through rubble on Tuesday in a heavily populated area of Indonesia’s West Java province to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes and buildings and killed 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), a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck the Cianjur region in West Java at around 1:21pm local time on Monday at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and caused buildings to collapse during school classes. they were driving.
The extent of the death and devastation caused by the earthquake became increasingly clear Tuesday after previous discrepancies in the death toll reported by authorities.
More than 22,000 homes were destroyed and more than 58,000 people displaced, BNPB Major General Suharyanto said on Tuesday.
The photographs showed buildings turned into rubble, bricks and pieces of broken metal strewn across the streets.
“Most of the dead were children,” West Java governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters on Monday, adding that the death toll is likely to rise further. “Many incidents occurred in several Islamic schools.”
Strong tremors forced children to flee their classrooms, according to the charity group Save the Children, which said more than 50 schools were affected.
Mia Saharosa, a teacher at one of the affected schools, said the earthquake “was a shock to all of us,” according to the group.
“We all gathered on the field, the children were scared and cried, they were worried about their families at home,” Saharosa said. “We hug each other, get stronger and keep praying.”
Herman Suherman, a government official in Cianjur, told the media that some residents were trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. The news channel Metro TV showed hundreds of victims being treated in a hospital parking lot.
According to Reuters, television footage shows residents gathering outside the buildings almost completely reduced to rubble.
Visiting the quake-affected areas on Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the government would provide compensation of up to about $3,200 to homeowners with severe damage.
Jokowi added that the houses should be rebuilt as earthquake resistant buildings.
One resident, simply named Muchlis, said he felt a “huge 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 said.
Indonesian meteorological bureau BMKG has warned of the danger of landslides, especially in case of heavy rain, as 25 aftershocks were recorded in the first two hours after the earthquake.
Rescuers were unable to reach some of the trapped people immediately, he said, adding that the situation continued to be chaotic.
Government officials are building tents and shelters for the victims while meeting their basic needs.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, speaking at the ASEAN multilateral meeting in Cambodia on Tuesday, offered his “deepest condolences” after the loss of life.
Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire”, a band around the Pacific Ocean that often triggers earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most seismically active regions on the planet stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific to California and South America on the other.
In 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coastline, more than half of them in Indonesia.
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