Indonesia hit by devastating earthquakes


Destruction, image courtesy of the New York Times

Kahle van Staveren, Reporter

In the 16 days between Nov. 16 and Dec. 1, Indonesia was hit with a total of 26 earthquakes measuring between 4.3 and 5.6 on the Richter scale. According to CNN, the sheer number of earthquakes along with the location has caused over 56,000 homes to be destroyed and left 310 people dead. Earthquakes are frequent in Indonesia, but these hit especially hard as the tragedy continues.

The location of the earthquakes is a leading factor in why they were so deadly. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the epicenter of the earthquakes occurred only six miles below the surface. This caused an otherwise weak earthquake to hit much harder than it would have if it had occurred further into the Earth.

On top of the location, the infrastructure of the surrounding area only made the earthquakes worse. Many of the buildings are not able to withstand the effects of a powerful earthquake. According to CNN, about 43 percent of the population lives in rural areas, living in poorly constructed homes.

“The houses affected by this earthquake are required to use earthquake-resistant building standards by the Minister of Public Works and Public Housing.” The president of Indonesia said. “These earthquakes happen every 20 years. So the houses should be earthquake-resistant.”

Obviously, the houses were not built following the standards given by the Minister of Public Works and Public Housing.

Building earthquake resistant buildings is not as hard as it sounds. According to CNN, countries like Japan and Nepal have implemented them into their schools and other important buildings, and have seen success.

As of Dec. 1, 2022, over 61,000 people have been misplaced, according to the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management. The recurring problem of insufficient infrastructure is to blame once again. While the president of Indonesia, President Widodo, said the government would provide compensation of up to $3,200 to each of the owners of heavily damaged homes. Many families in Cianjur lost everything, now, they face the nearly impossible task of rebuilding.