CIANJUR, Indonesia (AP) — In the fourth day of an increasingly urgent search, Indonesian rescuers narrowed their work Thursday to a landslide where dozens are believed to have been trapped after an earthquake that killed at least 271 people. , more than a third of them children.
A day earlier, searchers rescued a 6-year-old boy who had been trapped for two days under the rubble of his collapsed house. Suharyanto, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said he was found alive next to the body of his grandmother.
It was the deadliest earthquake in Indonesia since the 2018 earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi that killed an estimated 4,340 people.
Many of the more than 1,000 rescue personnel are using backhoe loaders, sniffer dogs and life detectors, as well as jackhammers and bare hands, to speed up the search in the hardest-hit area of the town of Cijendil, where a landslide occurred. caused by the earthquake on Monday. it left tons of mud, rocks and trees in Cugenang sub-district.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur on Thursday and said they will focus on a place where 39 are still missing.
“The search process will be our priority for now. Focus there. And this afternoon we will concentrate on this single search point,” Widodo said.
“Steep conditions and it’s still raining and there are still aftershocks. The ground is unstable, so you have to be careful,” she said. “But the Minister of Public Works has ordered his staff, that he is used to doing cut and fill. I think this can be done soon.»
He added that there are also obstacles in distributing supplies to the wounded and displaced who are scattered and difficult to reach.
«We hope that all the victims can be found soon,» Henri Alfiandi, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said Thursday.
More than 2,000 people were injured in the quake that displaced at least 61,000 people to evacuation centers and other shelters after at least 56,000 houses were damaged. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has said that 171 public facilities were destroyed, including 31 schools.
Suharyanto, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said 100 of the 271 confirmed deaths were children.
Rescue efforts were temporarily suspended on Wednesday due to heavy monsoon rain.
Ordinarily, Monday’s magnitude 5.6 quake would not be expected to cause serious damage. But the quake was shallow and struck a densely populated area that lacks quake-resistant infrastructure. Weak aftershocks continued into Thursday morning.
More than 2.5 million people live in the mountainous Cianjur district, including about 175,000 in its main city, which bears the same name.
Indonesia 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 «Ring of Fire.»