Earthquake hits West Java, Indonesia as authorities rush to rescue survivors

By International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Earthquake hits West Java, Indonesia as authorities rush to rescue survivors

Thousands of families in the west of the island of Java were left reeling as a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit the area. Thousands of houses, schools, infrastructure, roads, and more have been severely damaged as some are seen in a state of rubble.

The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasures in Indonesia officially reports more than 60 casualties and more than 320 people injured. The numbers are still emerging as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah) is working with authorities to urgently assess the ground situation and gather more information.

The Secretary General of the Indonesian Red Cross, Sudirman Said, said: “We are devastated to hear about the lives that have been lost by the earthquake. Indonesian Red Cross relief and emergency teams have been deployed to help with evacuations, provide first aid, distribute clean water, and establish emergency kitchens and emergency relief, focusing on most affected areas. We also mobilized 5 units of ambulance, medical personnel, and volunteers to help with urgent evacuation and ground assessment.

“We are doing all we can to ensure no more lives are lost. We are ensuring that our volunteers and personnel do all they can to help people seek safety and comfort at our emergency shelters where critical relief can be found. We would also urge people to stay calm and to contact authorities for help.”

The earthquake hit the district of Cianjur where the livelihoods of the people thrive around small and medium enterprises revolving around local wear and products. While the earthquake did not trigger tsunami warnings, the people of West Java are no strangers to earthquakes and are doing all they can to stay vigilant for aftershocks and dangerous falling debris.

Over 13,700 people have been reported displaced while thousands more have lost their homes and are scattered in various emergency shelters.

IFRC Head of Delegation, Indonesia, Elkhan Rahimov, said: “We are alongside the Indonesian Red Cross to closely assess the ground situation and determine the immediate needs of the affected community. Volunteers at the frontline are also prioritizing their safety and well-being of themselves as they work around the clock to help people get to safety. Our first main priority is to serve the affected community by meeting their immediate needs like access to drinking water, and shelter and administering first aid. We are focusing our efforts on these while we plan our next phase of longer-term assistance.”

Red Cross personnel continue to respond as landslides, electricity, and telecommunications cut off are reported.