The earthquake in Indonesia kills dozens of people, reduces houses to rubble and injures hundreds

CIANJUR, Indonesia, Nov 21 (Reuters) – A 5.6 magnitude earthquake killed more than 60 people and injured hundreds in Indonesia’s West Java province on Monday. Rescuers tried to reach survivors trapped under the rubble amid a series of aftershocks.

The epicenter was near the town of Cianjur in West Java, about 75 km (45 miles) southeast of the capital Jakarta, where some buildings shook and some offices were evacuated.

The Indonesian Civil Protection Agency (BNPB) said 62 people were killed. At least 25 people were trapped under collapsed buildings, it said.

BNPB spokesman Abdul Muhari said the search would continue throughout the night.

“So many buildings have collapsed and smashed,” West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil told reporters.

“There are local residents who are trapped in remote locations … so we expect the number of injuries and deaths to increase over time.”

Indonesia spans what is known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a highly seismically active zone where different plates of the Earth’s crust meet, causing a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

The BNPB said more than 2,200 homes were damaged and more than 5,300 people displaced.

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Java on Monday

Power was out, disrupting communications efforts, Cianjur chief executive Herman Suherman said, adding that a landslide blocked evacuations in one area.

Hundreds of victims were treated in a hospital parking lot, some under an emergency tent. Elsewhere in Cianjur, residents huddled together on mats in open fields or in tents while the buildings around them were almost completely reduced to rubble.

According to the Office for Weather and Geophysics (BMKG), officials were still working to determine the full extent of the damage caused by the quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km.

Vani, who was being treated at Cianjur’s main hospital, told MetroTV that the walls of her home collapsed during an aftershock.

“The walls and the closet just fell down … Everything was leveled, I don’t even know where my mom and dad are,” she said.

25 aftershocks were recorded within two hours, BMKG said, adding there were concerns of further landslides in the event of heavy rain.

In Jakarta, some people evacuated offices in the central business district, while others reported seeing buildings shaking and furniture being moved, witnesses told Reuters.

In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 quake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries and killed 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half in Indonesia.

Reporting by Tommy Ardiansyah, Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana and Johan Purnomo in Cianjur, Ananda Teresia, Gayatri Suroyo, Fransiska Nagoy in Jakarta Writing by Ed Davies and Kate Lamb; Edited by Kanupriya Kapoor, Kim Coghill, Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie

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