A 5.6-magnitude earthquake killed more than 160 people, according to local authorities, and injured hundreds in Indonesia’s West Java province on Monday, with rescuers trying to reach survivors trapped under the rubble amid a series of aftershocks.
The epicenter was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, about 75km (46 miles) southeast of the capital, Jakarta, where some buildings shook and some offices were evacuated.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) spokesperson Abdul Muhari said the search would continue through the night.
“So many buildings crumbled and shattered,” West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters.
“There are residents trapped in isolated places… so we are under the assumption that the number of injured and deaths will rise with time.”
Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a zone where there is frequent seismic activity and where different plates on the Earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.
The BNPB said more than 2,200 houses had been damaged and more than 5,300 people had been displaced.
Electricity was down and this was disrupting communication efforts, Herman Suherman, head of Cianjur’s government, said, adding that a landslide was blocking evacuations in one area.
Hundreds of victims were being treated in a hospital parking lot, some under an emergency tent. Elsewhere in Cianjur, residents huddled together on mats in open fields or in tents while buildings around them had been reduced almost entirely to rubble.
Officials were still working to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the earthquake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km, according to the weather and geophysics agency (BMKG).
A woman named Vani, who was being treated at Cianjur main hospital, told MetroTV that the walls of her house collapsed during an aftershock.
“The walls and wardrobe just fell… Everything was flattened; I don’t even know the whereabouts of my mother and father,” she said.
Within two hours, 25 aftershocks had been recorded, BMKG said, adding there were concerns about more landslides in the event of heavy rain.
In Jakarta, some people evacuated offices in the central business district, while others reported buildings shaking and furniture moving, Reuters witnesses said.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra island in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coastline, more than half of them in Indonesia.