An earthquake on the Indonesian main island of Java has left a trail of destruction around the city of Cianjur. On Tuesday, emergency services searched for dozens of 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. The magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Monday killed well over 100 people and injured hundreds more.
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.
Heavy earthquake in the Solomon Islands
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 this was lifted after a few hours.
There were initially no reports of deaths or injuries or major destruction in the Solomon Islands, but according to local media there is said to be damage to buildings. Many people tried to get away from the coasts to higher ground. Malango is less than 40 kilometers southwest of the capital, Honiara. The authorities advised the population to remain cautious even after the all-clear, as aftershocks are to be expected. The Solomon Islands, with around 700,000 inhabitants, are east of New Guinea.
Hundreds seriously injured on Java
In Indonesia, meanwhile, desperation was great. The television of the island state reported live from the earthquake area throughout the day. However, there was conflicting information about the number of victims, mainly because of the chaos in the wake of the quake. While the national search and rescue service (Basarnas) continued to speak of 162 dead, civil protection put the number at 103. The authority also spoke of 31 missing people. The number of victims could therefore continue to rise. According to a spokesman for the city of Cianjur, dozens of children are among the dead.
The hospitals around Cianjur 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.