Indonesia earthquake: rescuers search for survivors, death toll rises
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At least 252 people died in the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Java on Monday. On the ground, the rescuers try, Tuesday, to find the survivors in the rubble. However, searches are made more difficult by blocked roads and power cuts.

Rescuers are working on Tuesday, November 22, to find survivors among the rubble in the aftermath of an earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java, which left at least 252 dead and several hundred injured.

The epicenter of the 5.6 magnitude earthquake was located near the city of Cianjur, in the province of West Java, the most populous of this Southeast Asian archipelago. The victims perished in the collapse of buildings, but also in landslides triggered by the tremors, which hit this very hilly region.

The local administration of Cianjur announced on its Instagram account a new toll of 252 dead, 31 missing and more than 300 injured. “These are the official data,” confirmed Adam, spokesman for the local administration on the phone.

Priority to victim extraction

Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised compensation during a visit to the scene, asking the rescue teams “to mobilize their personnel” to allow the evacuation of the victims above all.

“Today we are concentrating on the extraction of the victims buried by the landslides,” Rudy Saladin, a local military official, told AFP. “It is possible that there are more victims,” he said.

Drone footage shows the extent of the damage caused by the quake: bulldozers attempt to clear a road after an entire swath of brown earth hill collapsed.

Rescuers are trying to make their way through the debris and fallen trees to reach areas where residents would be trapped, Dimas Reviansyah, a 34-year-old rescuer who works alongside dozens of people, told AFP. others. “I haven’t slept at all since yesterday (Monday) but I have to continue because there are victims who have not been found,” he said.

Among the victims are in particular students of an Islamic boarding school or even inhabitants killed in their homes by the fall of the roof or the walls. “The room collapsed and my legs were buried under the rubble. Everything happened so quickly,” Aprizal Mulyadi, 14, told AFP. , subsequently lost his life.

Relief operations delayed

Searches are made more difficult by blocked roads and power cuts in this rural area, where houses are made of both wood and concrete.

Over 2,000 homes were damaged. Some 13,000 people have been taken to evacuation centers, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said.

In the cities, doctors were treating patients outdoors as well as in makeshift care units under tents after the earthquake, which shook buildings as far as the capital, Jakarta.

In a shelter in the village of Ciherang near the town of Cianjur, victims, including babies and young children, are sitting on corrugated iron sheets. Nunung, a 37-year-old mother who like many Indonesians has only one name, saved her son from disaster by pulling him from the wreckage of their collapsed house. “I had to free us by digging. There’s nothing left, I couldn’t save anything,” she told AFP, her face covered in dried blood.

Damage from the earthquake, which struck after 1:20 p.m. local time on Monday, was compounded by more than 60 aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 1.8 to 4 in the town of Cianjur, home to some 175,000 people.

According to the national geology agency, the nature of the region’s terrain, friable volcanic deposits from the Quaternary, “could accentuate the seismic shocks” created by an active fault. Located on the Pacific “ring of fire” where tectonic plates meet, Indonesia is regularly confronted with earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people on the island of Celebes.

With AFP

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