On Tuesday, rescuers struggled to find more bodies amid the rubble of homes and buildings toppled by an earthquake that has killed at least 162 people and injured hundreds on the main island of Java, in Indonesia.
Other heavy equipment reached the hardest-hit town of Cianjur in the country’s most densely populated province, West Java, where a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck on Monday afternoon. Terrified residents fled into the street, some covered in blood and debris.
Damaged roads and bridges, power outages and a lack of heavy equipment have previously hampered Indonesian rescuers after the quake triggered a landslide that blocked streets and buried several homes and motorists.
Power supplies and telephone communications began to improve in quake-affected areas on Tuesday.
Most of the dead were public school students who had completed their classes for the day and were taking additional lessons at Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said in announcing the latest toll. deaths in the remote rural area.
Hospitals have been overwhelmed with wounded and the toll is expected to rise. No estimate was immediately available due to the remote rural population of the area, but many structures collapsed and residents and relief workers braced for grim news.
The operations focused on a dozen places in Cianjur, where people are still believed to be trapped, said Endra Atmawidjaja, spokesman for public works and housing.
“We are running with the times to save people,” said Atmawidjaja, adding that seven excavators and 10 large trucks were deployed from the nearby towns of Bandung and Bogor to continue clearing trees and soil that were blocking roads connecting the villages. towns of Cianjur and Cipanas.
Trucks carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from the capital, Jakarta, were arriving early Tuesday for distribution at temporary shelters. Yet thousands of people spent the night in the open, fearing aftershocks.
“The buildings have been completely razed,” said Dwi Sarmadi, who works for an Islamic educational foundation in a nearby neighborhood.
About 175,000 people live in the city of Cianjur, which is part of a mountainous district of the same name with more than 2.5 million inhabitants. Known for their piety, the people of Cianjur mostly live in towns of one- and two-story buildings and in smaller houses in the surrounding countryside.
Kamil said more than 13,000 people whose homes were badly damaged had been taken to evacuation centers.
Rescuers treated the injured on stretchers and blankets outside hospitals, on terraces and in parking lots. The injured, including children, were given oxygen masks and intravenous catheters. Some have been revived.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Cianjur Regional Hospital building, waiting for treatment
“I was working inside my office building. The building was not damaged, but as the earthquake shook very hard, a lot of things fell. My leg was hit by heavy objects,” said Saturday.
Sarmadi was waiting near a tent outside the hospital after some overwhelmed clinics couldn’t see him. Many people arrived in worse condition.
“I really hope they can take care of me soon,” he said.
Hasan, a construction worker who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name, is also among the survivors being taken to hospital.
“I passed out. It was very strong,” Hasan said. “I saw my friends running to escape the building. But it was too late to get out and I was hit by the wall.”
The magnitude 5.6 earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the Earth’s surface, according to the US Geological Survey. It also caused panic in the greater Jakarta area, about three hours away, where skyscrapers swayed and some people were evacuated.
In many houses in Cianjur, pieces of concrete and tiles fell inside the rooms.
Trader Dewi Risma was working with customers when the earthquake hit and she ran for the exit.
“Vehicles on the road stopped because the quake was very strong,” she said. “I felt it shook three times, but the first one was the strongest for about 10 seconds. The roof of the store next to the store I work in collapsed and people said two had been affected.”
The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency recorded at least 25 aftershocks.
The country of more than 270 million people is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific basin known as the of “Ring of Fire”.
In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.
A powerful earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.