“Most of those who died fell on buildings. Some were hit on the head,” said Hermann Suhrmann, head of Cianjur regency. “You can hear ambulance sirens everywhere here.”
More than 2,200 homes were damaged, and an estimated 13,000 people were displaced, according to officials. According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred at a depth of only six miles (10 kilometers), making it more devastating.
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 children, were brought on motorbikes or carried by relatives, witnesses said.
Patients at Cianjur Hospital, some on stretchers, had to be evacuated amid fears the building might collapse. Some members of the crowd rushed inside to get tables and other equipment to take the injured to safety, locals said.
Ricky Susan, a local journalist in Cianjur, said he was drinking coffee in an army barracks when the earthquake struck. By the time he ran outside, the building behind him was still shaking violently and a minimart across from the barracks had been destroyed.
“I saw a group of minimarket workers standing outside the ruins and they were all crying,” he said. “They told me one of them didn’t make it out and was buried in the rubble.”
National Disaster Management Agency chief Suharyanto said the priority is to rescue the injured and take them to medical treatment. Like many Indonesians, he goes by one name.
Access to the affected region is likely to be a problem after the earthquake, which has caused significant damage to infrastructure in the area. Electricity and cellphone services were disrupted in some parts of Cianjur.
Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, told a news conference that the quake triggered landslides on the outskirts of Siangjur and closed the road from neighboring Pankak Pass, a mountain pass in West Java.
She added that 45 aftershocks were reported, but no tsunami warning was issued.
The tremors were felt in the neighboring cities of Sukabumi and Bandung. Residents of the capital Jakarta, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Cianjur, felt significant tremors when the quake struck and some buildings were evacuated.
Indonesia is in an earthquake-prone region and experiences frequent earthquakes, which can cause significant casualties, especially after tsunamis. In 2018, the tsunami caused a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Central island of Sulawesi More than 2,000 people were killed, according to the United Nations. There was an earthquake in 2009 South Sumatra It resulted in 1,117 deaths.
Indonesia also experiences extreme weather events and other natural disasters at the end of the year, when it is hit by heavy rains, which can cause floods and mudslides.
“We need to be alert,” Ridwan Kamil, the governor of West Java province, told local reporters, adding that the government was ready to respond to any aftershocks or other emergencies.
“It’s the year-end disaster season, which is frightening,” he added.
Rebecca Tan in Singapore contributed to this report.