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Indonesia Struck By 5.6 Magnitude Earthquake

Indonesia’s West Java Province was struck by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake during the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2022, with at least 268 fatalities, 151 missing, and hundreds more injured.

37% of those who were killed were children, as reported by ReliefWeb. According to Plan Indonesia, children–along with women and elderly populations–were more likely to be impacted by disasters like this earthquake as they spend more time in indoor settings. Due to the nature of such earthquakes, tens of thousands of houses were damaged in addition to 142 school buildings as reported by The Guardian. The destruction of schools was concerning since as many as 60 million students attend schools in earthquake-prone zones in Indonesia, according to the Guardian. Due to this, many want to rebuild education facilities in order to better protect students in case of future natural disasters.

“So if we know the characteristics of the earthquake, we can respond to that by building robust and flexible structures that can absorb the ground vibration,” civil engineering professor Manlian Ronald Simanjuntak told the Guardian.

The earthquake left dozens of aftershocks, causing poorly constructed homes to collapse as residents ran for their lives on Indonesia’s main island of Java. Shallow earthquakes, similar to the one in Indonesia, cause greater amounts of damage at the surface of the Earth in comparison to intermediate earthquakes. BNPB Major General Suharyanto announced reports of more than 22,000 homes being destroyed and over 58,000 people being displaced in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Indonesia sits on the “ring of fire,” an area of tectonic activity around the Pacific where earthquakes have been commonly created in the past years due to several tectonic plates colliding. The recent earthquake’s widespread impact was due to it being in the most densely populated province of West Java, having the epicenter within proximity of fault lines, resulting in greater impact and leaving the people vulnerable to the inadequate infrastructural damage.

As of Nov. 23, Indonesia’s government has not sought international assistance, but other non-profit and non-government organizations have begun providing assistance to those affected by the earthquake. Such organizations are distributing food and water, shelter for those displaced, medical supplies, and sanitation supplies. For those interested in directly supporting reconstruction efforts, cash donations are recommended, as reported by Disaster Philanthropy.

Editors: Phoebe Chu He, Luna Y.


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