Rescuers dug through rubble Tuesday to find survivors of a powerful earthquake that destroyed homes and buildings in a heavily populated area of Indonesia’s West Java province, killing at least 268 people.
Another 151 people are missing and more than 1,000 are injured, the country’s National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) said.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in the Cianjur region of West Java around 1:21 pm local time on Monday, causing schools to collapse while classes were in session. was running.
The extent of death and destruction caused by the earthquake became increasingly clear on Tuesday, after earlier discrepancies in the death toll reported by officials were found.
More than 22,000 houses have been destroyed and more than 58,000 people have been displaced, BNPB Major General Suharyanto said on Tuesday.
Photos show buildings in ruins, with bricks and pieces of broken metal littering the streets.
“Most of the dead were children,” West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters on Monday. The death toll is likely to rise further. “Many incidents took place in many Islamic schools.”
The powerful earthquake forced children to flee their classrooms, affecting more than 50 schools, according to the aid group Save the Children.
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 scared and crying, worried about their families at home,” Saharosa said. “We hug each other, strengthen each other and keep praying.”
Herman Suherman, a government official in Sianjur, told the media that some residents were trapped under the rubble of the collapsed buildings. News channel Metro TV showed hundreds of victims being treated in a hospital parking lot.
Television footage showed residents trapped outside buildings almost completely reduced to rubble, according to Reuters.
While visiting areas affected by the earthquake on Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the government would pay up to about $3,200 in compensation to owners of houses that suffered extensive damage.
Houses should be rebuilt as earthquake-resistant buildings, Jokowi added.
One resident, identified only as Muchlis, said he felt a “huge tremor” and saw cracks in the walls and ceiling of his office.
“I was very shocked. I was afraid there would be another earthquake,” he told Metro TV.
Indonesia’s Department of Meteorology, BMKG, has warned of the risk of landslides, especially in the event of 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 was chaotic.
Government officials are constructing tents and shelters for the victims while meeting their basic needs.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his “deepest sorrow” at the loss of life while speaking at an ASEAN multilateral meeting in Cambodia on Tuesday.
Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean which is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity. One of the most seismically active regions on the planet, it stretches from Japan and Indonesia on one side of the Pacific to California and South America on the other.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia, triggering a tsunami that hit 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of them in Indonesia.