Rescuers carry the body of a victim of the earthquake that hit the island of Java in Indonesia on November 22, 2022 in Cianjur (AFP / ADEK BERRY)
The toll of an earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java increased on Tuesday to 268 dead and several hundred injured, as relief efforts increased efforts to find survivors in the rubble.
The epicenter of the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that hit West Java province, the most populous province in this Southeast Asian archipelago, on Monday was located near the city of Cianjur.
The earthquake killed 268 people, according to a latest report announced by Suharyanto, the head of the national disaster management agency during a press conference.
“Our priority is the search and evacuation of the victims,” said the official, reporting 151 missing.
This is the deadliest earthquake toll in Indonesia since 2018.
The victims perished in the collapse of buildings, but also in landslides triggered by the tremors that hit this very hilly region.
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.
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.
Residents collect their belongings from their damaged homes, following a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that left at least 162 dead, hundreds injured and missing in Cianjur on November 22, 2022 (AFP / ADITYA AJI)
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.
More than 2,000 homes were damaged. Some 13,000 people have been taken to evacuation centers, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said. This official announced Monday evening a death toll of 162.
A man carries the body of his son on November 22, 2022 in Cianjur (Indonesia), the day after an earthquake which killed at least 162 people (AFP / ADITYA AJI)
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 snapshot by an AFP photographer, we see a father carrying the body of his son wrapped in a white shroud in his arms through his village located near Cianjur.
Many other residents continued to search for their missing relatives amid the chaos
Rahmi Leonita’s father was on his motorcycle when the earthquake shook the city of Cianjur and she has been looking for him since the day before.
“His phone is off. I’m in shock. I’m very worried but I still have hope” to find him, said the 38-year-old Indonesian with tears streaming down her cheeks.
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.
A villager looks at houses damaged by the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that left at least 162 dead, hundreds injured and missing in Cianjur on November 22, 2022 (AFP / ADITYA AJI)
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.
The damage of the earthquake, which struck Monday after 1:20 p.m. local time, was aggravated by more than 60 aftershocks of magnitude 1.8 to 4 in the city of Cianjur, which is home to some 175,000 inhabitants.
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.
A man retrieves belongings from a destroyed house after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that left at least 162 dead, hundreds injured and missing in Cianjur on November 22, 2022 (AFP/ADEK BERRY)
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.
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