Schoolchildren among 252 dead after magnitude 5.6 earthquake strikes Indonesia

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Indonesia: Over 40 deaths after fatal earthquake

Indonesian authorities say the death toll from Monday’s earthquake on Java has leapt to 252 as more bodies have been discovered under collapsed buildings.  The Cianjur regional disaster mitigation agency said Tuesday on its Instagram site that the number of dead has increased from 162 reported the night before. Another 31 people remain missing and hundreds were injured.

Cianjur, south of Jakarta, was hardest hit by the 5.6 magnitude temblor that hit Monday afternoon.

Blocked roads and damaged bridges prevented rescuers from bringing excavators and other heavy equipment to the rural area to help dig out survivors until Tuesday.

Excavators, trucks and other heavy equipment sent overnight reached the hardest-hit city of Cianjur, south of Jakarta. The city, in the country’s most densely populated province of West Java, was near the epicenter of magnitude 5.6 temblor Monday afternoon, which sent terrified residents fleeing into the streets, some covered in blood and debris.

One woman told The Associated Press when the earthquake hit her home in Cianjur, the building started “shaking like it was dancing.”

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Indonesia: Rescue workers after yesterday’s quake (Image: GETTY)

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Indonesia: An injured youngster pulled from the rubble (Image: GETTY)

The woman, who gave her name only as Partinem, added: “I was crying and immediately grabbed my husband and children.

The house collapsed shortly after she escaped with her family.

Parti“If I didn’t pull them out we might have also been victims.”

In addition to those killed, authorities reported more than 300 people were seriously hurt and at least 600 more suffered minor injuries.

It was not immediately clear how many remain missing.

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Indonesia: Multiple buildings collapsed during yesterday’s quake (Image: GETTY)

In the village of Cijedil, northwest of Cianjur, the quake triggered a landslide that blocked streets and buried several houses, and there were reports that 25 people were still buried, said Henri Alfiandi, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

He said: “We are maximising operations at several points where it is suspected that there are still casualties.

“Our team is also trying to reach remote areas. For us, all victims are a priority, our goal is to find them and save lives by getting them evacuated as soon as possible and get 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 awaited further treatment.

Many of the dead were public school students who had finished their classes for the day and were taking extra lessons at Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said.

Initial rescue attempts were hampered by damaged roads and bridges and power blackouts, and a lack of heavy equipment to help move the heavy concrete rubble. By Tuesday, power supplies and phone communications had begun to improve.

Operations were focused on about a dozen locations in Cianjur, where people are still believed trapped, said Endra Atmawidjaja, the public works and housing spokesperson.

He added: “We are racing against time to rescue people”

Seven excavators and 10 large trucks had been deployed from neighboring Bandung and Bogor cities to continue clearing trees and soil that blocked roads, Mr Atmawidjaja said.

Cargo trucks carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from Jakarta were arriving early Tuesday in temporary shelters. Still, thousands spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks.

Dwi Sarmadi, who works for an Islamic educational foundation in a neighboring district, said: “Buildings were completely flattened.”

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

Speaking after visiting survivors in shelters on a soccer field, he said: “On behalf of myself and on behalf of the government, I would like to express my deep condolences to the victims and their families in this Cianjur earthquake.”

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

Roughly 175,000 people live in Cianjur, part of a mountainous district of the same name with more than 2.5 million people. Known for their piety, the people of Cianjur live mostly in towns of one- and two-story buildings and in smaller homes in the surrounding countryside.

More than 13,000 people whose homes were heavily damaged were taken to evacuation centres, while uutside the Cianjur Regional Hospital, hundreds waited for treatment.

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

He said: “I fainted. It was very strong. I saw my friends running to escape from the building. But it was too late to get out and I was hit by the wall.”

The quake struck at a depth of ten kilometers (6.2 miles). It also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, about a three hour-drive away, where high-rises swayed and some people evacuated.

The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin known as the Ring of Fire

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

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

(More to follow)



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