“My life has suddenly changed,” says 45-year-old Enjot, who, like many Indonesians, has one name. “I’ll have to live with it from now on.”
The earthquake’s epicenter was just south of Enjot’s hometown of Cianjur, about a three-hour drive from the capital, Jakarta. After receiving a call from his daughter, Enjot boarded his motorcycle and raced home, arriving within minutes to find his neighborhood razed to the ground.
“Men, women and children cried as people trapped in the collapsed houses screamed for help,” he recalled. “I saw terrible devastation and heartbreaking scenes.”
His sister-in-law and her children, visiting from a nearby village, were among the more fortunate. Others heard their screams from the rubble and pulled them out.
The woman and children suffered serious head injuries and broken bones and are being treated at a hospital overwhelmed by the number of casualties.
More than 268 people were killed on Tuesday night, with hundreds missing and injured, almost all in and around Cianjur, according to the National Disaster Agency. The toll was expected to rise.
Like many other villagers, Enjot desperately dug through the rubble for survivors, and managed to save several. But blocked roads and damaged bridges prevented authorities from deploying the heavy machinery needed to clear larger slabs of concrete and other debris.
All day, family members wailed as they watched rescuers pull mud-covered bodies from the destroyed buildings, including one of Enjot’s nephews.
Not far from Enjot’s home, an aftershock triggered a landslide that crashed into the home of one of his relatives, burying seven people. Four were rescued, but two nephews and a nephew were killed, he said.
In a neighboring village, his sister, a cousin and six other relatives were killed when their houses collapsed, Enjot said.
Faced with such a sudden loss of life and with no place to live, Enjot wonders what comes next.
He lives by the thousands in tents or other temporary shelters set up by volunteers, barely enough to protect them from monsoon rains.
“The situation is worse than it appears on television,” said Enjot. “We are starving, thirsty and cold without suitable tents and clothing, and we have no access to clean water.”
“All that remains,” he said, “are the clothes I’ve been wearing since yesterday.”
Karmini reported from Jakarta.