Indonesia earthquake displaces tens of thousands and destroys homes

Rescue teams continued their search for dozens of people still missing since a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia on Monday, killing at least 271 people, including many children, and displacing tens of thousands of people. people who now live in makeshift shelters, the disaster of the country. -management agency said.

The victims were buried under their homes, schools or places of worship, or killed by landslides caused by the earthquake. Thousands of rescue workers deployed, some with dogs, to search the wreckage, the agency said on Wednesday.

The number of injured nearly doubled in the past day, topping 2,000, according to the agency.

Extensive damage to homes in the Cianjur area of ​​West Java, where the quake was centered, means residents will have to battle the disaster for months. More than 56,000 homes were damaged and nearly 62,000 people were displaced, according to official statistics.

Families set up temporary tents in front of their destroyed homes or moved with whatever belongings they could salvage from shelters set up by the government. Authorities said they have established public kitchens and medical facilities at 14 sites across the region.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the area on Tuesday and promised financial aid to victims whose homes were destroyed. He stressed the importance of rebuilding to earthquake-resistant standards to better prepare for future disasters in a country frequently hit by deadly earthquakes.

Monday’s quake and the two previous major quakes to hit this region of Indonesia occurred at intervals of about 20 years, which could suggest an emerging trend, the chief of the report said on Tuesday. country’s meteorological agency.

An emergency tent outside a hospital in Cianjur, Indonesia. The number of injured in the earthquake has exceeded 2,000 in the past day.



Sri Widiyantoro, professor of seismology at the Bandung Institute of Technology, said the earthquake’s shallow depth of 6.2 miles and poor construction of buildings in affected villages made the incident particularly damaging. Seismic waves decrease in intensity as they travel away from their source, a gradual weakening called attenuation.

“If an earthquake occurs deep in the earth, when the waves come to the surface, they have subdued,” Mr Widiyantoro said. “But if it’s shallow, there’s not as much attenuation, which is why shallow earthquakes are so dangerous, because the energy is still quite high by the time it hits the surface. “

He said that despite the government’s efforts to increase disaster preparedness, there are still many villages in Indonesia with poor building construction.

Landslides have made the situation worse, raising the death toll, blocking roads and delaying rescue efforts.

“The shaking itself facilitates the sliding, so a large number of casualties were because of this secondary risk” of landslides, said Shengji Wei, senior researcher at the Earth Observatory Singapore.

Wei said it was difficult to predict the seismic activity in the region because there is not yet a clear mapping of the faults, which is compiled from data collected over time. Still, looking at historical data, he said, “You can expect another.”

“People are already living in these dangerous places,” he said. “It’s very difficult for people to move, so there’s no such simple and direct way to drastically change the situation.”

Rescuers searched for bodies and survivors under piles of rubble after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the main island of Java, Indonesia. More than 260 people have been killed, officials said on Tuesday. Photo: Aditya Aji/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Write to Feliz Solomon at

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