A strong, shallow earthquake toppled buildings and collapsed walls on Indonesia’s densely populated main island of Java on Monday, killing at least 56 and injuring hundreds as people rushed into the streets, some covered in blood and white debris.
Emergency workers treated the injured on stretchers and blankets outside main hospitals, on terraces and in parking lots. Many included children, some of whom were given oxygen masks, IV lines and were being resuscitated.
“I fainted. It was very strong,” said Hasan, a construction worker who is being treated at the Cianjur Regional Hospital. “I saw my friends running to escape from the building. But I was too late to get out and was hit by the wall.”
Residents, some crying with children in their arms, fled damaged homes after the magnitude 5.6 quake shook the Cianjur region in West Java province in late afternoon, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, where high-rises swayed and some were evacuated.
Rescue teams and civilians in Cianjur were looking for others who may have been buried in the debris of collapsed brick houses. The quake was powerful enough to bring down walls, chunks of concrete and roof tiles, some of which landed inside bedrooms.
Shopkeeper Dewi Risma was working with customers when the quake hit, and made a run for the exit.
“The vehicles on the road stopped because the quake was very strong,” she said. “I felt it shook three times, but the first one was the strongest one for around 10 seconds. The roof of the shop next to the store I work in had collapsed, and people said two had been hit.”
Herman Suherman, the head of Cianjur regency, said the death toll reached 56 as of Monday evening. Around 700 were injured, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief Suharyanto said.
Several landslides were reported around Cianjur. Among the dozens of buildings that were damaged was an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities, the agency said.
Information was still being collected about the extent of casualties and damage.
Most of the victims and survivors were taken to the government hospital in Cianjur, where emergency tents were erected and workers treated the injured.
Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.
“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 in the capital area, where many residents ran into the streets and others hid under desks in their offices.
Earthquakes occur frequently across the sprawling archipelago nation, but it is uncommon for them to be felt in Jakarta.
The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.
A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.