Rescuers were digging through the rubble to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes and buildings and killed at least 268 people in a heavily populated area of Indonesia’s West Java province on Tuesday.
The country’s National Agency for Natural Disaster Management (BNPB) said that 151 more people were missing and more than 1,000 people were injured.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers in the Cianjur region of West Java on Monday at 1:21 p.m. local time, causing buildings to collapse during school classes. they continued.
The extent of the death and destruction caused by the earthquake became increasingly clear on Tuesday after officials reported discrepancies in the death toll reported earlier.
BNPB Major General Suharyanto said on Tuesday that more than 22,000 houses were destroyed and more than 58,000 people were displaced.
The photos showed buildings turned into ruins, bricks and broken metal scraps scattered on the streets.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters on Monday that most of the dead were children. “There have been many incidents in several Islamic schools.”
The strong tremors forced children to flee their classrooms, according to the aid 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 in the field, the children were terrified and crying, 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 media that some residents were trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. Metro TV news channel showed hundreds of victims being treated in the hospital parking lot.
Television footage showed residents gathering outside buildings that were almost completely destroyed, Reuters reported.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited the quake-hit areas on Tuesday, said the government would pay compensation of up to about $3,200 each to the owners of badly damaged houses.
Jokowi added that houses should be rebuilt as earthquake-resistant buildings.
One resident, identified only as Muchlis, said he felt a “huge jolt” and that the walls and ceiling of his office were damaged.
“I was very shocked. I was worried that there will be another earthquake,” he told Metro TV.
Indonesia’s Meteorological Bureau BMKG warned of the danger of landslides, especially during heavy rains, as 25 aftershocks were recorded in the first two hours after the earthquake.
Rescuers could not immediately reach some of those trapped, he said, adding that the situation remained chaotic.
In addition to constructing tents and shelters for the victims, the government authorities are meeting their basic needs.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered his “deepest condolences” after the loss of life while addressing an ASEAN multilateral meeting in Cambodia on Tuesday.
Indonesia sits on the Ring of Fire, a band around the Pacific Ocean that causes frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most seismically active zones on the planet stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific Ocean to California and South America on the other.
In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.