Indonesia earthquake count rises to 268, rescuers hunt for survivors – Times of India


CIANJUR (INDONESIA): The death toll of one earthquake Indonesia’s main island, Java, rose to 268 on Tuesday as rescuers searched the rubble for survivors and family members began to bury their loved ones.
When body bags emerged from crumpled buildings in Indonesia’s most populous province, Western Javarescue efforts focused on survivors still buried under the rubble in areas difficult to reach due to the mass of obstacles thrown on the roads by the quake.
The epicenter of Monday’s shallow magnitude 5.6 earthquake was near the town of Cianjur, where most of the victims were killed, hundreds injured and dozens trapped as buildings collapsed and landslides were triggered.
The death toll rose dramatically from 162 to 268 later on Tuesday, Suharyanto, the head of Indonesia’s National Disaster Response Agency, or BNPB, told a news conference.
At least 151 people remain missing and more than 1,000 were injured, said the official, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
“The focus is still on finding and evacuating victims. That is the priority,” he said. “If the emergency aid stops, hopefully everyone will be found.”
At a funeral in a village near Cianjur, relatives of 48-year-old victim Husein, who was killed building a house when the earthquake hit, broke into hysterical wails before his body was lowered into the ground.
“I just lost a brother 10 days ago. Now I have lost another brother,” said his sister Siti Rohmah, sobbing uncontrollably.
“I kept waiting, hoping that he would survive and that nothing bad would happen to him.”
One of dozens of rescuers, Dimas Reviansyah, 34, said teams used chainsaws and excavators to break through piles of felled trees and debris to find survivors.
“I haven’t slept at all since yesterday, but I have to keep going because there are victims that haven’t been found,” he said.
Drone footage captured by AFP showed the magnitude of an earthquake-induced landslide where a wall of brown earth was broken only by workers using heavy machinery to clear a road.
President Joko Widodo visited the area on Tuesday, offering compensation for casualties and ordering disaster and rescue services to “mobilize their staff”.
– ‘State of shock’ – Many of the dead were children, according to the head of Indonesia’s national rescue organization Basarnas.
“They were at school at 1pm, they were still studying,” Henri Alfiandi told a press conference.
Some of the dead were students at an Islamic boarding school, while others were killed in their homes as roofs and walls collapsed on them.
Tuesday’s search was made more difficult due to broken road connections and temporary power outages in parts of the largely rural, mountainous area.
Those who survived camped outside in near-total darkness, surrounded by fallen debris, broken glass, and chunks of concrete.
Doctors treated patients outside in makeshift wards after the earthquake, which was felt as far away as the capital Jakarta.
A father carried his dead son wrapped in white cloth through the streets of his village near Cianjur.
Others searched for their missing relatives in the chaos.
Rahmi Leonita’s father was riding a motorbike to Cianjur when the earthquake hit.
“His phone is not active. I’m in shock right now. I’m very worried, but I still have hope,” the 38-year-old said with tears streaming down her cheeks as she spoke.
– ‘Nothing I could save’ – In a shelter in the village of Ciherang near Cianjur, evacuees sat on tarpaulins stretched over the cold morning ground.
Nunung, a 37-year-old woman, pulled herself and her 12-year-old son from the rubble of their collapsed house.
“I had to free ourselves by digging. There is nothing left, there is nothing I can save,” she told AFP from inside the shelter, her face covered in dried blood.
The devastation caused by the quake was compounded by a spate of 62 smaller aftershocks that relentlessly shook Cianjur, a city of about 175,000 people.
The Geological Agency of Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources said in an analysis posted online Monday that the area’s soil composition could have exacerbated the earthquake’s impact.
It said the area’s “wavy to steep hills” were made up of “weathered” and “young” volcanic debris.
“These … deposits are generally soft, loose, unconsolidated and amplify the effects of shocks, making them prone to earthquakes,” it said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with Canadian and French leaders, expressed their condolences on Tuesday.
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
A magnitude 6.2 earthquake in Sulawesi in January 2021 killed more than 100 people and left thousands homeless.

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