Research continues in Indonesia, to try to find survivors among the rubble, the day after an earthquake on the 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 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.
“Today we are concentrating on extracting 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 in the rubble. Everything happened so quickly,” Aprizal Mulyadi, 14, told AFP, pulled out and brought to safety by one of his friends who later 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.
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 am in shock. I am 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.
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.
“Ring of Fire”
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.