Indonesia earthquake: Death toll rises to 252 with dozens still missing

Rescue workers carry the body of a victim in Cianjur on 22 November 2022, following a 5.6-magnitude earthquake (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers carry the body of a victim in Cianjur on 22 November 2022, following a 5.6-magnitude earthquake (AFP via Getty Images)

At least 252 people have now died in the earthquake that struck western Java in Indonesia on Monday, the local government said, with dozen still reported missing.

About 377 people have been injured, the authorities confirmed in an Instagram post, adding that over 7,000 people have been displaced following the 5.6-magnitude earthquake.

The majority of the deaths – 162 – occurred in the country‘s most populous province of West Java, officials said, with this number also expected to rise.

Excavators, trucks and other heavy equipment sent overnight reached the hardest-hit city of Cianjur, in West Java, on Tuesday. Located near the epicentre, yesterday’s quake sent terrified residents fleeing into the streets, some covered in blood and debris.

One woman told the Associated Press that when the earthquake hit her home the building started “shaking like it was dancing”.

“I was crying and immediately grabbed my husband and children,” said the woman, who gave her name only as Partinem. The house collapsed shortly after she escaped with her family.

“If I didn’t pull them out we might have also been victims,” she said, gazing over the pile of concrete and timber rubble.

In addition to those injured at least 31 remain missing from the quake, said the authorities.

More than 24 hours after the quake struck, emergency workers were racing to pull victims from the rubble of buildings and clear areas cut-off by landslides, with recovery efforts complicated by power cuts and damaged roads over a large area.

For hours Aris stared at an excavator working its way through mounds of earth in the hope it might uncover some trace of his brother and sister in-law.

The 45-year-old had spent hours walking to the district of Cugenang where his relatives lived until disaster struck.

“When I got here, nothing was left. Everything was buried,” Aris said, gesturing at a huge mound of brown earth where his brother’s home had stood.

“I am here because I need to find my family, my sister-in-law. She was buried under this landslide. There were three: the mother and two children,” Aris said.

His brother was missing from a nearby area, he said.

More than 13,000 people had been evacuated and at least 2,200 houses were damaged, authorities said.

Straddling the so-called Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active zone where different plates on the earth’s crust meet, Indonesia has a history of devastating earthquakes.

By this afternoon, Aris was becoming resigned to his loss.

“We leave it to God,” he said. “What matters is we tried. Then we have to let them go.”

Additional reporting by agencies