“Most of the dead were hit by buildings. Some were hit in the head,” said Hermann Suhrmann, president of the Cianjur Regency. “All you can hear here is ambulance sirens everywhere.”
According to officials, more than 2,200 houses were damaged and about 13,000 people were displaced. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake struck at a depth of six miles (10 kilometers), causing further devastation.
Local television footage showed crowds of injured people, some bandaged and bleeding, rushing to hospitals and clinics for treatment. Some were taken in ambulances, but others, including young children, were brought in on motorbikes or picked up by relatives, witnesses said.
Patients at Cianjur Hospital had to be sent out on stretchers, some fearing the building might collapse. Some members of the crowd ran inside to retrieve tables and other equipment to take the injured to safety, locals said.
Ricky Susan, a local journalist in Cianjur, was having coffee at an army camp when the earthquake struck. By the time he ran outside, the building behind him was still shaking violently, and a minimart across from the barracks had been destroyed.
“I saw a group of minimarket workers standing outside the rubble and they were all crying,” he said. “They told me one of them didn’t get out and was buried in the rubble.”
The head of the National Disaster Management Organization, Suhariando, said the priority was to rescue the injured and take them to medical treatment. Like many Indonesians, he goes by one name.
Access to the affected area may be a problem after the earthquake, which appears to have significantly damaged infrastructure in the area. Electricity and cell phone services were disrupted in Cianjur areas.
Twikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency, said during a press conference that the quake triggered a landslide on the outskirts of Siangjur, cutting off road access from Puncak Pass, a mountain pass in West Java.
He said 45 aftershocks were reported, but no tsunami warning was issued.
The quake was reportedly felt in the neighboring cities of Sukabumi and Bandung. Residents of the capital Jakarta, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Siangjur, also felt significant shaking when the quake hit, and some buildings were evacuated.
Indonesia is in a seismic zone and experiences frequent earthquakes, especially when followed by tsunamis that can cause significant casualties. In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake was followed by a tsunami. The central island of Sulawesi According to the United Nations, more than 2,000 people were killed. In 2009, there was an earthquake South Sumatra leading to 1,117 deaths.
Indonesia often experiences extreme weather events and other natural disasters at the end of the year, often affected by heavy monsoon rains that cause floods and landslides.
“We have to be vigilant,” Ridwan Kamil, the governor of West Java province, told local reporters, adding that the government was ready to respond to any setbacks or other emergencies.
“It’s the disaster season at the end of the year, it’s scary,” he said.
Rebecca Tan in Singapore contributed to this report.
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