CIANJUR, Indonesia — On Indonesia’s main island, the island of Java, rescuers were unable to find any more bodies on Tuesday from the ruins of houses and buildings that collapsed in an earthquake that killed at least 162 people and injured hundreds more.
More heavy machinery reached the most densely hit city of Cianjur in the country’s most densely populated province of West Java, where an earthquake measuring 5.6 according to the Richter scale shook on Monday afternoon. Terrified residents fled to the street, some of them covered in blood and debris.
Damaged roads and bridges, power outages and a lack of heavy equipment have previously hampered Indonesian rescuers after the earthquake triggered landslides that blocked streets and buried houses and motorists.
Power and telephone communications began to improve in the quake-hit areas on Tuesday.
Many of the dead were public school students who had finished their classes for the day and were taking extra classes at Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said as he announced the latest death toll in the remote, rural area.
Hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured and the death toll is expected to rise. Estimates were not immediately available due to the area’s remote, rural population, but many structures collapsed and residents and emergency workers braced for grim news.
Operations have been focused on about a dozen locations in Cianjur where people are still believed to be trapped, Public Works and Housing spokesman Endra Atmawidjaja said.
“We are racing against time to save people,” Atmawidjaja said, adding that seven excavators and 10 large trucks had been dispatched from the neighboring cities of Bandung and Bogor to continue clearing trees and soil that blocked roads connecting the cities of Cianjur and Cipanas. .
Trucks carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies arrived early Tuesday from the capital, Jakarta, to be distributed in temporary shelters. Despite this, thousands of people spent the night outdoors, fearing aftershocks.
“The buildings were completely flattened,” said Dwi Sarmadi, who works for an Islamic education foundation in a neighboring district.
Roughly 175,000 people live in the city of Cianjur, which is part of a mountainous district of the same name with a population of more than 2.5 million. The people of Cianjur, known for their piety, live mostly in one- and two-story towns and in smaller homes in the surrounding countryside.
Kamil said more than 13,000 people whose homes were badly damaged had been taken to evacuation centers.
Ambulances treated the injured on stretchers and blankets outside hospitals, on terraces and in parking lots. The injured, including children, were given oxygen masks and infusion lines. Some were revived.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Cianjur regional hospital building and waited for treatment
“I was working in my office building. The building was not damaged, but because the earthquake shook it so hard, a lot of things fell down. A heavy object hit my leg,” said Sarmadi.
Sarmadi waited near a tent outside the hospital after some overburdened clinics were unable to see him. Many arrived in worse condition.
“I really hope they can deal with me soon,” he said.
Hasan, a construction worker who, like many Indonesians, uses one name, is also one of the survivors being taken to hospital.
“I passed out. It was very strong,” Hasan said. “I saw my friends running to escape the building. But it was too late to get out and I hit the wall.”
The 5.6-magnitude earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, according to the United States Geological Survey. It also caused panic in greater Jakarta, about a three-hour drive away, where high-rise buildings swayed and some people were evacuated.
In Cianjur, many homes had chunks of concrete and roof tiles fall into bedrooms.
Shopkeeper Dewi Risma was working with customers at the time of the earthquake and ran for the exit.
“Vehicles stopped on the road because the tremor was very strong,” he said. “I felt it shake three times, but the first one was the strongest for about 10 seconds. The top of the shop where I work collapsed and people said two people got hit.
The Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.
The country of more than 270 million people is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, as it sits on an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Ocean basin known as the ‘Ring of Fire’.
In February, a 6.2-magnitude 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.
In 2004, a powerful Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killed 230,000 people in dozens of countries, most of them in Indonesia.
Tarigan reported from Jakarta. Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia contributed to this report.