More than 260 dead in Java after a major earthquake, including many children who were buried under collapsed school
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At least 151 people are still missing and more than 1,000 were injured after the shallow quake hit West Java on Monday afternoon. The city of Cianjur, about 70 kilometers south of the capital Jakarta, was particularly hard hit. Neighborhoods have been completely wiped off the map. At least 13,000 people are homeless. That is also where most of the more than 260 people died.

On Tuesday, excavators, trucks and other heavy equipment finally arrived at the site of the disaster. But hopes of extracting many more survivors from under the rubble have faded, aid workers say.

On Monday, cries for help were heard from under several buildings. But on Tuesday morning, local time, it was quiet everywhere, says the head of the disaster management service. “That doesn’t bode well.”

At least 268 bodies have now been recovered. In particular, many children and young people who attended Islamic schools, says governor of West Java Ridwan Kamil. One of those schools was completely destroyed, others were badly damaged. Parents wait nearby for news about their children. But most may not have survived the disaster, the police chief admitted.

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Because the population is poor and live in ramshackle houses, the damage is incalculable. A mother said her house completely collapsed but she still managed to pull her two children out of the rubble. A third child, a girl, unfortunately remains missing.

Villagers are still trying to save what can be salvaged from their destroyed houses, but the risks of further collapses remain high. No less than 136 aftershocks have already been measured. Many buildings that were already shaky after the massive 5.6 quake have now been completely razed to the ground, said Henri Alfiandi, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

READ ALSO. At least 162 dead in severe earthquake in Java

Like the house of Aris, a 45-year-old man. He had to be supported after he was told on Tuesday afternoon that his mother and his two children had not survived. His wife remains missing.

President promises speedy reconstruction

President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur on Tuesday. He promised to release funds to quickly restore infrastructure and rebuild the main bridge connecting Cianjur to other cities.

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Meanwhile, hundreds of injured people are still lying around the local hospital. That is too badly damaged to risk treating patients inside. That is why there is even an operation in a tent in the parking lot in front of the main entrance. In the garden, the wounded and sick lie on cardboard or on mattresses and IV bags hang from the trees.

“We will also overcome this drama,” says governor Ridwan Kamil. “But it will take a long time for everything to recover and for all wounds to heal.”

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