An earthquake on the Indonesian main island of Java has left a trail of destruction and despair around the city of Cianjur. The death toll rose to 252 by Tuesday afternoon, according to local civil protection agencies. Task forces were still looking for more than 30 missing people in the rubble and under mud avalanches. With the help of excavators and dump trucks, they were digging access to areas cut off from the outside world by landslides. Hundreds of people are injured, some seriously.
President Joko Widodo visited the disaster area on Tuesday and promised financial aid for those affected. In particular, it is important to quickly rescue those who are still buried. Earthquake-proof construction standards would have to be applied during reconstruction, as earthquakes would repeatedly occur in the island nation, he warned.
Indonesia lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the most geologically active zone on earth. The volcanic belt surrounds the Pacific Ocean on three sides. There are regular volcanic eruptions, but also violent earthquakes and seaquakes.
And the earth on the ring of fire gives no rest. A severe earthquake shook the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Tuesday. The 7.0 magnitude quake struck at noon (local time) near the town of Malango in the province of Guadalcanal at a depth of about 15 kilometers. A tsunami warning caused fear and panic - but it was lifted after a few hours.
In Indonesia, meanwhile, desperation was great. The television of the island state reported live from the earthquake area throughout the day. There had previously been conflicting information on the number of victims, mainly because of the chaos that followed the quake. The death toll could still rise. Many children were also killed, said a spokesman for the Cianjur authorities.
The region's hospitals were completely overcrowded. About 300 people were very seriously injured, said Henri Alfiandi, head of the national emergency services. "These are people who are so injured they can't walk. But overall there are too many injuries to count."
According to army chief Dudung Abdurachman, the bodies of 14 people buried in a landslide resulting from Monday's quake were found on Tuesday. "We are still looking for more victims," he said. A whole café was buried by masses of earth. "We don't know if anyone was able to save themselves from it."
The earthquake occurred on Monday afternoon (local time) about 70 kilometers south-east of the capital Jakarta at a depth of ten kilometers. The skyscrapers also swayed in the metropolis. However, no serious damage was reported here.