At least 162 people were killed after an earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Java on Monday, with the tremors being felt in the capital Jakarta, the island’s governor said.
The magnitude 5.6 quake struck in the afternoon in the Cianjur region of West Java province, some 75 kilometers (47 miles) south of the capital.
On Tuesday, rescuers used heavy equipment and struggled to find more bodies from the rubble of homes and buildings.
President Joko Widodo is expected to visit the area later in the day.
School children among victims
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told a press conference on Monday night, “I regret to inform that 162 are dead.”
At least 326 residents were injured in the quake, the governor added, with many sustaining fractures “from being crushed in the ruins.”
Kamil said that “the majority of those who died were children.” Many of the victims were students in public schools who finished classes for the day and were attending extra lessons at Islamic schools.
Cianjur, a town with roughly 175,000 people, is located in a mountainous district of the same name with over 2.5 million inhabitants. The town is known for having a large number of mosques and Islamic boarding schools.
Damage estimates ongoing
The number of dead and injured was still being assessed and authorities said both could rise.
Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency, BNPB, said that at least 25 people were believed to be trapped under rubble as of Monday night.
Rescue workers have recovered at least 14 bodies from a landslide caused by the quake.
“We are still looking for more victims,” Army Chief General Dudung Abdurachman said.
Around 2,000 houses were damaged, according to initial estimates, with 13,000 people taken to evacuation centers.
The force also damaged several major buildings including a hospital and an Islamic boarding school.
Power outages have hampered rescue efforts, with at least one hospital left without electricity.
By Tuesday morning, 89% of electricity to Cianjur had been restored by state power company PLN.
Footage broadcast on Indonesian TV showed a number of buildings in Cianjur that had been almost totally destroyed. Images showed cracked roads and houses badly damaged in Cianjur’s Cugenang area.
Agus Azhari told news agency AFP he was with his elderly mother when strong tremors destroyed their living room within seconds. Parts of the walls and roof fell-in around them.
“I pulled my mother’s hand, and we ran outside,” the 19-year-old said. “I heard people screaming for help from all around me.”
In Jakarta, some people evacuated offices as buildings started to shake.
“The quake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to get out of our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,” a worker in South Jakarta told the Associated Press news agency.
Earthquake-prone ‘Ring of Fire’
Indonesia is situated on the so-called “Ring of Fire” — a region around the rim of the Pacific Basin that is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The country of 270 million is frequently struck by quakes, one of the most recent, in February of this year, killed at least 25 people and injured another 460 in West Sumatra province.
zc, rs, ab/dj (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)