Jakarta. At least 56 people mostly children died and hundreds of others were injured in the epicenter of an earthquake that struck the western part of Java on Monday.
The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said the earthquake was measured at 5.6 on the Richter Scale and centered in the West Java town of Cianjur at 13:21 p.m. local time (06:21 a.m. GMT).
"According to the latest data, the death toll stands at 56, including 40 children who became the majority of casualties from collapsing buildings," Cianjur District Head Herman Suherman told reporters.
A BMKG official said it’s more about the depth of the earthquake, not the magnitude, that produces the devastating impacts.
“It’s categorized as a shallow earthquake at the depth of less than 10 kilometers so it doesn’t take a magnitude of 7 or above to cause destruction,” BMKG’s Earthquake and Tsunami Center Head Daryono said at a video conference in Jakarta.
Shallow earthquakes on the earth’s outer surface produce more intense shaking and tend to be much more damaging than deep earthquakes.
Cianjur and neighboring districts like Sukabumi, Lembang, Purwakarta, and Bandung are located in an active seismic zone with frequent earthquakes, he added.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) gave different figures for casualties, saying 46 people were killed in the earthquake until its latest update at 04:00 p.m.
“My cake shop was flattened, but thankfully my house only sustained minor damages,” Atina, a resident in Cianjur, told Jakarta Globe’s sister publication Beritasatu.com.
She said the tremor was so powerful people immediately rushed out of their homes and a number of buildings nearby collapsed almost immediately.
Social media platforms were flooded with pictures and videos of the quake's aftermath, showing the debris of buildings destroyed by the quake.
An internet user posted a picture of flattened houses and wrote: “In Cianjur, all houses were destroyed.”