The death toll from the Indonesia earthquake rose to 268. 151 are missing

The death toll from the earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java jumped to 268 on Tuesday as more bodies were found under collapsed buildings, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said, and 151 people are still missing.

Agency chief Suharyanto, who like many Indonesians uses a single name, told reporters that 1,083 other people were injured in the 5.6-magnitude quake. which struck on Monday afternoon near the city of Cianjur.

The earthquake sent panicked residents into the streets, covering some in blood and debris, and caused buildings to collapse across the rural area.

One woman told the Associated Press that when the earthquake struck, her Cianjur home “started shaking as if it was dancing.”

“I was crying and immediately grabbed my husband and children,” said the woman, who only gave her name as Partenem. The house collapsed shortly after she and her family fled.

“If I don’t pull them out, we could be victims, too,” she said, staring at the pile of concrete and wooden rubble.

In addition to the fatalities, authorities reported that more than 300 people were seriously injured and at least 600 others sustained minor injuries.

In the village of Segedil, northwest of Cianjur, the earthquake triggered a landslide that blocked streets and buried many homes, said Henri Alfiande, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

We are maximizing operations at several points where it is suspected that casualties may still occur. Our team also tries to reach remote areas. “For us, all victims are a priority, and our goal is to find them and save lives by evacuating them as quickly as possible and getting medical help.”

With hospitals already overwhelmed, patients lay on stretchers and cots in tents set up outside, with intravenous drips in their arms as they waited for more treatment.

Ridwan Kamel, governor of West Java, said many of the dead were government school students who had finished their lessons that day and were taking additional lessons in Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed.

Initial rescue attempts were hampered by damaged roads and bridges, power outages, and a lack of heavy equipment to help move the heavy concrete rubble. By Tuesday, the power supply and telephone connections had begun to improve.

Indra Atmawedaga, spokesman for Public Works and Housing, said operations have been concentrated on about a dozen sites in Cianjur, where people are believed to still be trapped.

“We are racing against time to save people,” said Atmawedaga, adding that seven excavators and 10 large trucks have been deployed from the neighboring cities of Bandung and Bogor to continue removing trees and soil that have blocked roads.

Cargo trucks loaded with food, tents, blankets and other supplies arrived from Jakarta early Tuesday in makeshift shelters. However, thousands spent the night in the open, fearing aftershocks.

“The buildings were completely flattened,” said Doy Sarmady, who works for an Islamic educational institution in a nearby area.

President Joko Widodo on Tuesday visited Cianjur to reassure people of the government’s response in reaching those in need.

“On my own behalf and on behalf of the government, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the victims and their families of the Cianjur earthquake,” he said after visiting survivors in shelters at a football stadium.

He pledged to rebuild infrastructure, including the main bridge connecting Cianjur with other cities, and to provide government assistance of up to 50 million rupees ($3,180) for each resident whose house was damaged.

Approximately 175,000 people live in Cianjur, which is part of the mountainous region of the same name and is home to more than 2.5 million people. Renowned for their piety, the people of Cianjur lived mostly in towns of one- and two-story buildings and in smaller houses in the surrounding countryside.

Kamel said that more than 13,000 people whose homes were badly damaged were taken to evacuation centres. Outside Cianjur Regional Hospital, hundreds waited for treatment.

“I was working inside my office building. The building was not damaged, but as the earthquake shook so hard, many things fell. My legs were hit by heavy things,” Sarmadi said.

He was waiting near a tent outside the hospital after some of the overcrowded clinics could not see him. Many people were in worse condition. “I really hope they will deal with me soon,” he said.

Hassan, a construction worker who, like many Indonesians uses one name, was also one of the survivors taken to the hospital.

“I passed out. It was so strong,” Hassan recalls. “I saw my friends running to flee the building. But it was too late to get out and I hit the wall.”

The quake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, about three hours away by car, as high-rises swayed and some people were evacuated.

The country of more than 270 million people is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific basin known as the “Ring of Fire”.

In February, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 people in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in the province of West Sulawesi.

A powerful earthquake in the Indian Ocean and a tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in 12 countries, most of them in Indonesia.

___

Tarijan reported from Jakarta. Associated Press writer Ninik Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: