Java: The death toll is 268, many are missing

CIANJUR, Indonesia –

The death toll from the earthquake that rocked the Indonesian island of Java rose to 268 on Tuesday as more bodies were found beneath collapsed buildings and 151 people were still alive, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said. is missing.

Agency chief Suharyanto, who like many Indonesians knows only one name, told reporters that another 1,083 people were injured in the 5.6-magnitude earthquake that struck Monday afternoon near the city Cianjur street.

The quake sent panicking residents into the streets, some covered in blood and debris, and caused buildings around the countryside to collapse.

One woman told the AP news agency that when the quake hit, her house in Cianjur began to “shake like it was dancing”.

“I cried and immediately hugged my husband and children,” said the woman, who gave her name as Partinem. The house collapsed shortly after she escaped with her family.

“If I didn’t pull them out, we might as well be victims,” she said, staring at the pile of rubble and concrete.

In addition to those killed, authorities said more than 300 people were seriously injured and at least 600 others were slightly injured.

In the village of Cijedil, northwest of Cianjur, the quake caused a landslide that blocked streets and buried some houses, said Henri Alfiandi, director of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

“We are maximizing our operations at some points where we suspect there are still casualties. Our forces are also trying to reach remote areas,” he said. “For us all victims are a priority, our goal is to find them and save lives by evacuating them as soon as possible and getting medical help.”

When hospitals are overwhelmed, patients lie on stretchers and cots in tents set up outside, with IV tubes in their arms as they await further treatment.

Many of those killed were public school students who had finished school for the day and were studying in Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said.

Initial rescue efforts were hampered by damaged roads and bridges, power outages and a lack of heavy equipment to help move the heavy concrete debris. By Tuesday, electricity supplies and telephone communications had begun to improve.

Endra Atmawidjaja, a spokeswoman for public works and housing, said operations were concentrated on about a dozen locations in Cianjur, where people are still trapped.

“We are racing against time to rescue the people,” said Atmawidjaja, adding that seven excavators and 10 large trucks have been deployed from the neighboring cities of Bandung and Bogor to continue clearing the trees. mortars and rocks blocked the way.

Trucks carrying food, tents, blankets and other necessities from Jakarta arrived at temporary shelters early Tuesday morning. However, thousands of people spent the night outdoors for fear of aftershocks.

“The buildings have been completely flattened,” said Dwi Sarmadi, who works for an Islamic education institution in the neighboring district.

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

“On behalf of me personally and on behalf of the government, I offer my deep condolences to the victims and their families in this earthquake in Cianjur,” he said after visiting survivors. in bunkers on a football field.

He pledged to rebuild infrastructure, including the main bridge linking Cianjur with other cities, and provided government assistance of up to 50 million rupiah ($3,180) for each resident whose home was damaged. harmful.

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

Kamil said more than 13,000 people whose homes were badly damaged were taken to evacuation centers. Outside Cianjur Regional Hospital, hundreds of people waited to be treated.

“I was working inside my office building. The building was not damaged, but due to the strong earthquake, many things fell. My leg was crushed by something heavy,” Sarmadi said.

He was waiting near a tent outside the hospital after several overcrowded clinics were unable to see him. Many have arrived in worse condition. “I really hope they can handle me soon,” he said.

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

“I fainted. It was very strong,” Hasan recalls. “I saw my friends running out of the building. But it was too late to get out and I was hit by the wall.”

The quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It also caused panic in the wider Jakarta area, about a three-hour drive away, where tall buildings shook and some people were evacuated.

The country of more than 270 million people is regularly subject to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on volcanic arcs 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 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 strong earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 killed 230,000 people in dozens of countries, mostly in Indonesia.


Tarigan reports from Jakarta. Writer Niniek Karmini of the Associated Press in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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