Rescue underway on Indonesia's Java island after quake kills at least 162

Rescuers on Tuesday struggled to find more bodies in the rubble of homes and buildings toppled by an earthquake that killed at least 162 people and injured hundreds on Indonesia's main island of Java.

Dozens of buildings were damaged, including an Islamic boarding school and a hospital

Indonesian town struggles with people injured in earthquake

7 months ago
Duration 0:42
Officials in Cianjur, Indonesia, are trying to treat hundreds of victims of a 5.6-magnitude earthquake, some of whom remain trapped by a landslide.

Rescuers on Tuesday struggled to find more bodies in the rubble of homes and buildings toppled by an earthquake that killed at least 162 people and injured hundreds on Indonesia's main island of Java.

More heavy equipment reached the hardest-hit city of Cianjur in the country's most densely populated province of West Java, where the magnitude 5.6 land-based quake struck Monday afternoon. Terrified residents fled into the street, some covered in blood and debris.

Damaged roads and bridges, power blackouts and lack of heavy equipment previously hampered Indonesia's rescuers after the quake set off a landslide that blocked streets and buried several houses and motorists.

Power supplies and phone communications have begun 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 lessons 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.

'Racing with time' as rescue efforts underway

Hospitals were overwhelmed by injured people, and the toll was expected to rise. No estimates were immediately available because of the area's far-flung, rural population, but many structures collapsed, and residents and emergency workers braced for grim news.

Operations were focused on about a dozen locations in Cianjur, where people are still believed trapped, said Endra Atmawidjaja, the Public Works and Housing spokesperson.

"We are racing with time to rescue people," Atmawidjaja said, adding that seven excavators and 10 large trucks have been deployed from neighbouring Bandung and Bogor cities to continue clearing trees and soils that blocked roads linking Cianjur and Cipanas towns.

Rescuers search for survivors at the ruins of houses damaged by the earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, on Monday. An earthquake shook Indonesia's main island, damaging dozens of buildings and sending residents into the capital's streets for safety. (Rangga Firmansyah/The Associated Press)

Cargo trucks carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from the capital, Jakarta, were arriving early Tuesday for distribution in temporary shelters. Still, thousands spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks.

"Buildings were completely flattened," said Dwi Sarmadi, who works for an Islamic educational foundation in a neighbouring district.

Hundreds gather to wait for hospital treatment

Roughly 175,000 people live in the town of Cianjur, part of a mountainous district of the same name that's home to more than 2.5 million people. The people of Cianjur live mostly in towns of one- and two-story buildings and in smaller homes in the surrounding countryside.

Kamil said that more than 13,000 people whose homes were heavily damaged were taken to evacuation centres.

Emergency workers treated the injured on stretchers and blankets outside hospitals, on terraces and in parking lots. The injured, including children, were given oxygen masks and IV lines. Some were resuscitated.

Wounded survivors of an earthquake were treated in the yard of a hospital in Cianjur on Monday night. (Timur Matahari/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Cianjur regional hospital building, waiting for treatment.

"I was working inside my office building. The building was not damaged, but as the quake shook very strongly, many things fell. My leg was hit by heavy stuff," Sarmadi, a survivor, said.

Sarmadi was waiting near a tent outside the hospital after some overwhelmed clinics were unable to see him. Many people were coming in worse shape.

"I really hope they can handle me soon," he said.

Hasan, a construction worker who, like many Indonesians, uses one name, is also one of the survivors that is being taken to the hospital.

"I fainted. It was very strong," said Hasan. "I saw my friends running to escape from the building. But I was too late to get out and was hit by the wall."

At least 25 aftershocks

Four people help lift an unseen person in front of a damaged building.
Municipality officers evacuate an injured colleague following an earthquake in Cianjur on Monday. (Antara Foto/Reuters)

The magnitude 5.6 quake was at a depth of 10 kilometres below the Earth's surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, about a three hour-drive away, where high-rises swayed and some people evacuated.

In many homes in Cianjur, chunks of concrete and roof tiles fell inside bedrooms.

Shopkeeper Dewi Risma was working with customers when the quake hit, and made a run for the exit.

"The vehicles on the road stopped because the quake was very strong," she said. "I felt it [shake] three times, but the first one was the strongest one, for around 10 seconds. The roof of the shop next to the store I work in had collapsed, and people said two had been hit."

WATCH | More than 10,000 displaced after quake: 

Indonesia earthquake kills more than 160, injures hundreds

7 months ago
Duration 1:38
More than 160 people are dead after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Java. Thousands of people have been displaced and are living in fear of aftershocks.

Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.

Earthquakes occur frequently across the sprawling archipelago nation, but it is uncommon for them to be felt in Jakarta.

The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin known as the "Ring of Fire".

In February, a magnitude-6.2 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.

A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.