Indonesian earthquake death toll rises

Indonesian earthquake death toll rises

The death toll from the powerful earthquake which hit Indonesia rose today, with at least 15 people were confirmed to have been killed, with many more missing or injured.

The victims were crushed by falling rock or collapsed buildings as today’s quake sent thousands of people fleeing outdoors for safety in the middle of the work day.

Hospitals quickly filled with scores of injured people after the magnitude 7.0 quake struck off the southern coast of the main island of Java, where most of Indonesia’s 235 million people live.

The death toll is expected to rise further.

“The earthquake was shaking everything in my house very strongly for almost a minute,” said Heni Maryani, a resident in the town of Sukabumi.

“I grabbed my children and ran out, I saw people were in panic, women were screaming and children were crying.”

Disaster officials said homes and buildings had collapsed in three districts in densely populated West Java. About 30 people were trapped under rocks and dirt in one village, the official Antara news agency reported.

A tsunami warning was issued after the quake struck at 2:55pm (07.55 Irish time), but revoked an hour later.

Muharaham Ardan, a university lecturer in the town of Tasikmalaya, about 70 miles (115 kilometres) from the epicentre, said it was the biggest quake he had ever felt.

“We all ran out in panic, we didn’t even put our sandals on,” he said. “The neighbours were shouting: ’Get out of the house! Get out of the house!”’

Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono reported 15 deaths in the districts of Cianjur, Tasikmalaya and Sukabumi in West Java.

Antara reported that 12 families, or about 30 people, were trapped in houses buried by a landslide in Rawa Hideung village. Six bodies had been recovered and the fate of many others was unknown.

One man said he saw at least 20 houses collapse in his village of Pameungpek.

“Residents here are still staying outside. We are afraid of aftershocks,” he said.

The quake was felt over roughly half of Java island. In the capital, Jakarta, 120 miles (190 kilometres) from the epicentre, office workers ran onto the streets.

Health Ministry Crisis Centre chief Rustam Pakaya said at least 27 people were admitted to hospital in Jakarta and the number of injured was rising.

The US Geological Survey said the underwater quake was magnitude 7.0 and had a depth of about 30 miles (50 kilometres).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the quake was powerful enough to cause a local tsunami, but there were no immediate reports of high waves.

“Sea level readings indicate a significant tsunami was not generated,” the centre later said in a statement retracting the alert.

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