Indonesia: Java quake kills 46 and injures hundreds

Rescuers carry an injured victim of the earthquake at a hospital in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, 21 November 2022.EPA

An earthquake has struck the main Indonesian island of Java, leaving at least 46 people dead and hundreds injured, local officials say.

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

Videos on social media showed some buildings reduced almost entirely to rubble and debris strewn on streets.

Officials warn of possible aftershocks and say the death toll could rise.

The area where the quake struck is densely populated and prone to landslides, with poorly-built houses. Rescuers have been trying to evacuate people from collapsed buildings, and managed to save a woman and her baby, according to local reports.

Herman Suherman, the head of administration in Cianjur town, told Kompas TV "46 people were killed".

"Victims kept coming from many areas," he said. "Around 700 people were injured."

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Earlier, AFP news agency quoted him as saying 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 said. "There are many families in villages that have not been evacuated."

He said more health workers were needed to deal with the overwhelming number of patients and that electricity was down in the area, leaving doctors at the main hospital unable to operate on patients.

Map showing location of earthquake in Indonesia
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Dozens of buildings had been damaged in Cianjur region, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement. They include a hospital and an Islamic boarding school.

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

People stay outside amid fears of aftershocks following an earthquake at a business area in Jakarta, Indonesia, 21 November 2022.

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.