The death toll in a powerful earthquake that rattled Indonesia’s main island of Java on Monday has increased to 162 people while injuring hundreds of others.
The rescuers are searching for survivors trapped under the rubble amid a series of aftershocks, reported Al Jazeera. The epicenter of the 5.6 magnitude earthquake was near the town of Cianjur in mountainous West Java, about 75km (45 miles) southeast of the capital, Jakarta. The region is home to over 2.5 million people.
The tremors destroyed many buildings and were felt in Cianjur in West Java at a depth of 10 km. Hundreds of buildings were damaged, including an Islamic boarding school, a hospital, and other public facilities.
The toll is expected to rise further, but no estimates were immediately available. The residents of Cianjur live mostly in towns of single and two-storey buildings and in smaller homes in the surrounding countryside, reported Al Jazeera.
Many of the dead were public school students who had finished their classes for the day and were taking extra lessons at several Islamic schools when they collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said as he announced the new death toll in the remote area.
Kamil said that more than 13,000 people whose homes were heavily damaged were taken to evacuation centres. He said on his Instagram page that 326 others have been injured, reported Al Jazeera.
“So many buildings crumbled and shattered,” Kamil told reporters. “There are residents trapped in isolated places … so we are under the assumption that the number of injured and deaths will rise with time.”
Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency, BNPB, still lists the toll at 62 and rescuers were searching for 25 believed to be trapped under the rubble. Its spokesperson said the search would continue through the night, reported Al Jazeera.
Due to miscounting, officials offered wildly fluctuating death tolls after an Indonesian stadium disaster last month.
Meanwhile, footage from Metro TV showed structures in Cianjur reduced almost entirely to rubble as worried residents huddled outside.
Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the weather and geophysics agency BMKG, advised people to stay outdoors in case of aftershocks.
In the two hours after the quake, 25 aftershocks were recorded, BMKG reported, adding there was a danger of landslides, especially in the event of heavy rain.
“We call on people to stay outside the buildings for now as there might be potential aftershocks,” Karnawati told reporters.
The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In February 2022, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province.