Indonesia: Java quake kills scores and injures hundreds

An earthquake on the main Indonesian island of Java has killed scores of people and injured hundreds, say officials.

The 5.6 magnitude quake struck Cianjur town in West Java, at a shallow depth of 10km (6 miles), according to US Geological Survey data.

Scores of people were taken to hospital, with many treated outside.

Rescuers have worked through the night to try to save others thought to still be trapped under collapsed buildings.

The area where the quake struck is densely populated and prone to landslides, with poorly built houses reduced to rubble in many areas.

The exact number of people killed so far remains unclear. Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has said their official death toll was 103, adding that another figure given by regional governor Ridwan Kamil - 162 - remains unverified.

BNPB said another 390 people were wounded and that 7,000 people had taken shelter in various locations in the area.

Mr Kamil has claimed that a total of 13,000 had been displaced by the disaster, and that more remained "trapped in isolated places". He said officials were "under the assumption that the number of injured and deaths will rise with time".

A collapsed school building in Cianjur, West Java
A collapsed school building in Cianjur
A damaged classroom in Cianjur, West Java
A damaged classroom in Cianjur

Herman Suherman, the head of administration in Cianjur town, said most injuries were bone fractures sustained from people being trapped by debris in buildings.

"The ambulances keep on coming from the villages to the hospital," he was quoted by AFP news agency as saying earlier in the day. "There are many families in villages that have not been evacuated."

Many of the injured were treated outside in a hospital car park after the hospital was left without power for several hours following the quake, West Java's governor said.

On Monday night, Mr Kamil wrote on Twitter that it could take up to three days for power to be fully restored to the area. He added that mobile phone reception remained poor and was causing "a lot of problems" for officials.

Map showing location of earthquake in Indonesia
Map showing location of earthquake in Indonesia

The tremor could also be felt in the capital Jakarta about 100km away, where people were evacuated from high-rise buildings.

Office workers rushed out of buildings in the civic and business district during the tremor, which started at 13:21 Western Indonesian time (WIT) on Monday, the agency said.

"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," lawyer Mayadita Waluyo told AFP.

An office worker named Ahmad Ridwan told news agency Reuters: "We are used to this [earthquakes] in Jakarta, but people were so nervous just now, so we also panicked."

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, which sits on the "ring of fire" area of tectonic activity in the Pacific. The country has a history of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, with more than 2,000 killed in a 2018 Sulawesi quake.