Indonesia earthquake kills over 160 people, may be deadliest in 2022

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MEDAN, Indonesia – More than 160 people have been killed in a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit the Indonesian province of West Java on Monday at 1:21pm local time, according to local officials.

Disaster management officials in Cianjur regency, near the epicenter of the quake, released a statement late on Monday saying at least 162 people had died and hundreds more were injured in the disaster, believed to be Indonesia’s deadliest this year. , an earthquake prone country. . This marked a significant jump from figures released earlier in the day and reflected ongoing efforts to pull victims from the rubble.

“The majority who died were hit by buildings. Some were hit on the head,” said Herman Suherman, head of Cianjur regency. “All you can hear here is ambulance sirens everywhere.”

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More than 2,200 houses have been damaged, according to officials, with around 13,000 people displaced. According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred at a depth of only six miles (10 kilometers), making it more devastating.

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Local television footage showed scenes of chaos as crowds of injured people, some bandaged and bleeding, rushed to hospitals and clinics for treatment. Some were taken in ambulances, but others, including young children, were brought in on motorbikes or carried in by relatives, witnesses said.

Patients at Cianjur Hospital had to be evacuated, some on stretchers, outside in case the building might collapse. Some members of the crowd ran inside to retrieve tables and other equipment to transport the injured to safe locations, locals said.

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake killed scores and injured hundreds in Indonesia’s West Java province on November 21. (Video: Reuters)

Ricky Susan, a local journalist in Cianjur, said he was having coffee in a military barracks when the earthquake struck. By the time he fled outside, the building behind him was still shaking violently, and across the barracks, a minimart had been destroyed.

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“I saw a group of small market workers standing outside the ruins, and they were all crying,” he said. “They told me that one of them didn’t manage to make it out and that he was buried in the rubble.”

Suharyanto, head of the National Disaster Management Agency, said the priority was to rescue the injured and take them for medical treatment. Like many Indonesians, he goes by one name.

Access to the area in question is likely to be a problem after the earthquake, which appears to have significantly damaged the area’s infrastructure. Electricity and mobile phone services were patchy in parts of Cianjur.

Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatic and Geophysical Agency, said during a news conference that the earthquake caused a landslide on the outskirts of Cianjur, cutting off road access from the nearby Puncak Pass, a mountain pass in West Java.

He added that 45 aftershocks had been recorded, but no tsunami warning had been issued.

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The earthquake was reportedly felt in the neighboring cities of Sukabumi and Bandung. Residents in the capital, Jakarta, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Cianjur, also felt a lot when the earthquake struck, and some buildings were evacuated.

Indonesia is in a seismic zone and often experiences earthquakes, which can cause significant injuries especially when tsunamis follow. In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that was triggered by a tsunami in the central island of Sulawesi killed more than 2,000 people, according to the United Nations. In 2009, an earthquake that struck southern Sumatra resulted in 1,117 deaths.

Indonesia also often experiences extreme weather and other natural disasters near the end of the year, when it is hit by heavy monsoon rains, which can cause floods and mudslides.

“We need to remain vigilant,” Ridwan Kamil, the governor of West Java province, told local reporters, adding that the government is ready to respond to any aftershocks or other emergencies.

“This is a disaster season at the end of the year, which is scary,” he added.

Rebecca Tan in Singapore contributed to this report.

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