New Earthquake Death Toll Hits 268

( Indonesia’s West Java region experienced a massive earthquake on Monday that has so far left at least 268 people, including many children, dead. By Wednesday, around 151 people remained missing and over 1,000 others were injured.

The 5.6 magnitude quake hit near the heavily populated town of Cianjur just after lunchtime on Monday, reducing dozens of buildings to rubble. Many of the dead and injured were crushed or trapped when walls and roofs collapsed. With about 80 schools within the affected area, many of the victims of the quake were children.

Since Monday’s quake, the region has experienced about 140 aftershocks as hundreds of responders have been sent to Cianjur.

At least 58,000 people have been evacuated and dozens of refugee camps were set up around the area. Java’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency estimated about 22,000 homes were destroyed or damaged.

The earthquake also triggered landslides that buried entire villages.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the disaster zone where he told reporters that his instruction to responders was to prioritize evacuating the victims still trapped beneath the rubble. He also pledged compensation to affected communities.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said the government would repair damaged houses and residents living in “vulnerable” areas would be told not to build future homes there.

Indonesia, a country of over 270 million people, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis due to its location on the “ring of fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In February, at least 25 people were killed and over 460 injured when a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit in the West Sumatra province of Indonesia.

In January 2021, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in West Sulawesi province killed over 100 people and injured nearly 6,500.

In 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a massive tsunami that killed nearly 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Indonesia.