Science

Rescue workers search for survivors of the Indonesian earthquake that killed 162 people

On Tuesday, rescuers worked to find survivors amid the rubble of an earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java that killed at least 162 people and injured several hundred.

The epicenter of the 5.6 magnitude earthquake was located near the city of Chanjur in the province of West Java, the most densely populated part of this Southeast Asian archipelago.

The victims died as a result of the collapse of buildings, as well as landslides caused by aftershocks that hit this very hilly region.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised compensation while visiting the scene, asking rescue teams to “mobilize their personnel” to allow the evacuation of victims first.

“Today we are concentrating on retrieving victims buried under landslides,” local military official Rudy Saladin told AFP.

“It is possible that there are other victims,” he said.

Drone footage shows the extent of the quake’s damage as bulldozers attempt to clear a road after an entire swath of brown earth has collapsed.

Rescuers are trying to make their way through debris and fallen trees to reach places where residents could be trapped, Dimas Reviansah, 34, a rescue worker who works alongside dozens of people, told AFP.

“I haven’t slept at all since yesterday (Monday), but I must continue because there are victims who have not been found,” he said.

Among the victims, in particular, students of an Islamic boarding school or even residents who died in their homes as a result of falling roofs or walls.

“The room collapsed and my feet were buried under the rubble. Everything happened so quickly,” Aprizal Mulyadi, 14, who later died, told AFP.

– Relief operations delayed –

The search is made more difficult by road closures and power outages in this rural area, where houses are built of both wood and concrete.

Over 2,000 houses damaged. About 13,000 people were taken to evacuation centers, according to West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil. This official announced on Monday evening the death toll of 162 people.

In the cities, doctors treated patients outdoors as well as in makeshift units under tents after an earthquake that shook buildings all the way to the capital Jakarta.

In the picture, taken by an AFP photographer, we see a father carrying the body of his son, wrapped in a white shroud, through his village near Chianjur.

Many other residents continued to search for their missing relatives amidst the chaos.

Rahmi Leonita’s father was on a motorcycle when the earthquake shook the city of Chanjur, and she has been looking for him since yesterday.

“His phone is off. I’m shocked. I’m very worried, but I still have hope” to find him,” said the 38-year-old Indonesian with tears in her eyes.

In a shelter in the village of Chikherang near the city of Chianjur, victims, including infants and young children, sit on sheets of corrugated iron.

Nunung, a 37-year-old mother who, like many Indonesians, has only one name, saved her son from disaster by pulling him out of the rubble of their collapsed home.

“I had to free us by digging. There was nothing left, I couldn’t save anything,” she told AFP, her face covered in gore.

The damage from the earthquake, which hit after 13:20 local time on Monday, was exacerbated by more than 60 tremors ranging from magnitude 1.8 to magnitude 4 in the city of Chanjur, home to about 175,000 residents.

According to the National Geological Agency, the region’s topography, loose Quaternary volcanic deposits “may amplify the seismic tremors” created by the active fault.

Situated in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates converge, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.

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

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