Island ravaged by tremors
56 dead as Indonesia 5.6-M earthquake shakes Java
Published: Nov 21, 2022 08:37 PM
People wait outside an office building after being evacuated following an 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Java, Indonesia on November 21, 2022. Photo: VCG

People wait outside an office building after being evacuated following an 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Java, Indonesia on November 21, 2022. Photo: VCG

A shallow 5.6-magnitude earthquake shook Indonesia's main island Java on Monday, killing at least 56 people and injuring hundreds, local officials said, with buildings damaged and a landslide triggered.

The quake was centred in the Cianjur region of West Java, according to the US Geological Survey, and was felt as far away as the capital of Jakarta, where panicked residents ran into the streets.

"Data from the district head team - 56 people died and more than 700 injured. Because there are still a lot of people trapped on the scene, we assume injuries and fatalities will increase over time," West Java governor Ridwan Kamil told a news conference broadcast by Kompas TV.

The local administration chief in the town worst hit by the tremor said most of the deaths were counted in one hospital alone, without providing a specific figure, with many others in surrounding villages still to be evacuated.

"The information I got for now, in this hospital alone, nearly 20 died and at least 300 people are being treated," Herman Suherman told broadcaster Metro TV. "Most of them had fractures from being trapped by the ruins of buildings."

Shops, a hospital and an Islamic boarding school in the town were severely damaged by the quake, according to local media.

Broadcasters showed several buildings in Cianjur with their roofs collapsed and debris lining the streets.

Suherman said relatives of victims had congregated at the town's Sayang hospital and warned the death toll could rise as villagers outside of the town may still be trapped. "We are currently handling people who are in an emergency state in this hospital. The ambulances keep on coming from the villages to the hospital," he said. 

"There are many families in villages that have not been evacuated."

The country's disaster chief Suharyanto, who also goes by one name, said at least 14 people had died in the Cianjur area but said information was "still developing."

Cianjur police chief Doni Hermawan told Metro TV authorities had rescued a woman and a baby from a landslide but a third person they found had died of their injuries.

The country's meteorological agency warned residents near the quake to watch out for more tremors.

"We call on people to stay outside the buildings for now as there might be potential aftershocks," Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's meteorological agency, told reporters.

The USGS had earlier reported the quake's magnitude as 5.4. There were no reports of casualties in Jakarta.

Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described how panicked workers ran for the exits of their building in Jakarta as the quake struck.

"I was working when the floor under me was shaking. I could feel the tremor clearly. I tried to do nothing to process what it was but it became even stronger and lasted for some time," she said.