Indonesia Earthquake: Over 160 dead, 700 injured

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Hundreds of people have been killed and injured, and scores more displaced, after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit Indonesia’s main island on Monday.

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At least 162 were killed and 700 hurt after a shallow tremor hit West Java near the town of Cianjur, around 45 miles south of the capital Jakarta, at 1.21pm local time.

The quake triggered a landslide and collapsed buildings in hard-hit Cianjur – where most of the deaths were reported – but also shook tower blocks in Jakarta for three terrifying minutes as people rushed on to the streets.

More than 2,000 houses were damaged and 13,000 people have been displaced and taken to evacuation centres as a result, according to local authorities.

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Shallow quakes tend to be more destructive than deeper earthquakes because deeper quakes travel further to the surface, losing energy along the way.

‘I regret to inform that 162 are dead,’ West Java governor Ridwan Kamil said in a video. Adam, the spokesman for the local administration in Cianjur town in West Java, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, confirmed the toll to AFP.

Several landslides were reported around Cianjur. Dozens of buildings were damaged, including an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities.

Herman Suherman, a local, said 20 deaths and 300 injuries had been counted in a single hospital – and that toll is likely to rise as more buildings are searched.

He said relatives of victims had congregated at the town’s Sayang hospital.

‘We are currently handling people who are in an emergency state in this hospital. The ambulances keep on coming from the villages to the hospital,’ he said.

‘There are many families in villages that have not been evacuated.’

The quake was felt strongly in the greater Jakarta area. High rises in the capital swayed and some were evacuated.

‘The quake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to get out of our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,’ said Vidi Primadhania, an employee in South Jakarta.

Earthquakes occur frequently across the sprawling archipelago nation, but it is uncommon for them to be felt in Jakarta.

Cianjur police chief Doni Hermawan told Metro TV authorities had rescued a woman and a baby from a landslide but a third person they found had died of their injuries.

The country’s meteorological agency warned residents near the quake to watch out for more tremors.

‘We call on people to stay outside the buildings for now as there might be potential aftershocks,’ the head of Indonesia’s meteorological agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, told reporters.

There were no reports of casualties or major damage in the capital of Jakarta, where people rushed out of buildings.

Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described how panicked workers ran for the exits of their building in Jakarta as the quake struck.

‘I was working when the floor under me was shaking. I could feel the tremor clearly. I tried to do nothing to process what it was but it became even stronger and lasted for some time,’ she said.

‘I feel a bit dizzy now and my legs are also a bit cramped because I had to walk downstairs from the 14th floor.’

Hundreds were waiting outdoors after the quake including some in hard hats to protect from falling debris, an AFP reporter there said.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where tectonic plates collide.

A 6.2-magnitude quake that shook Sulawesi island in January last year killed more than 100 people and left thousands homeless.