At least 56 people died and 700 were injured after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck the Indonesian city of Cianjur on the island of Java (population 50 million), the province’s governor, Ridwan Kamil, said. Authorities are working to determine the extent of what is happening and the governor has warned the death toll could rise. At the moment there are hundreds of victims being treated in hospitals. Herman Suherman, head of Cianjur administration, told MetroTV news channel, “Most have broken bones after being found trapped in the rubble of buildings.”
The earthquake’s epicenter was recorded in Cianjur, which is about 75 km southeast of the capital Jakarta. The Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) has registered 25 aftershocks in just two hours, adding that there is no possibility of a tsunami. The shock was also felt in Jakarta, but no casualties or significant damage have been reported at the moment.
National Disaster Management Board (BNPB) spokesman Abdul Muhari said 23 people are likely still trapped under the rubble of the collapsed buildings and 3,900 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. The spokesman clarified that in the city of Cianjur, more than 1,770 houses, several shops, four government buildings, three schools, a hospital, a church and an Islamic boarding school were damaged. Metro TV footage showed some city buildings almost completely reduced to rubble as concerned residents stayed outside.
Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described the workers’ panic as they ran to the emergency exits of the affected buildings. Waluyo has said: “I was working when the ground was shaking. I could clearly feel the jolt. There are many families in the villages who could not be evacuated.”
The earthquake has caused the closure of many roads and highways in the area and a power outage that affected more than 365,000 people in the city, according to the BMKG. Authorities are working to try to “quickly restore power.” Suherman stated, “Once it was confirmed that there were no aftershocks, officials moved to the field to normalize power grid conditions.”
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Indonesia often experiences earthquakes as the country straddles what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active zone where different plates of the earth’s crust meet, causing a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes. 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 coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.
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