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Authorities Struggle To Get Aid To Cianjur Quake Survivors, Rescue Continues
This handout picture taken and released on 24 November 2022 by the presidential palace shows President Joko “Jokowi“ Widodo (white shirt) visiting people who live in a shelter in Cianjur, following a 5.6-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 271 people. (AFP/Handout)
November 25th, 2022 | 12:26 PM | 223 views
CIANJUR, WEST JAVA
Authorities struggled on Thursday to get aid to thousands of people displaced by a deadly earthquake in West Java, as rain-triggered landslides and difficult mountainous terrain hampered the efforts of rescue teams.
Monday's 5.6-magnitude earthquake in the town of Cianjur, about 75 km (50 miles) south of Jakarta, killed at least 271 people and left thousands sheltering in tents with scant medical and aid supplies.
Suharyanto, the disaster mitigation agency chief, said on Thursday many had not received aid and nearly 200 volunteers were deployed to help distribute water, instant food, tents and diapers.
Survivors, including the elderly and small children, huddled inside military tents set up some distance away from devastated villages, while others queued up to receive aid packets from volunteers.
In Sukamanah village, residents said they were having to ration food and were short of supplies for children, including medicines, diapers and milk.
Ema Hermawati, wife of the village chief, said sanitation was lacking as trash started to pile up and there was no running water or portable toilets.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the site of the quake for a second time on Thursday and urged that aid distribution and rescue efforts continue as quickly as possible
"The conditions are steep," he said of the rugged terrain, adding there was a shortage of tents and water. "It's still raining and there are still aftershocks. The ground is shaky, so caution is needed."
On Thursday, authorities deployed heavy machinery, helicopters and thousands of personnel in a desperate effort to locate dozens trapped in rubble by an earthquake that killed 271 people, as hopes faded to find survivors.
Some have been pulled alive from the hulk of twisted metal and concrete in dramatic rescues in the town of Cianjur in West Java, including a six-year-old boy who spent two days under the wreckage without food or water.
Officials said around 40 people are still missing and believed trapped, including a seven-year-old girl, as rescue efforts were delayed by hammering rains and aftershocks.
But the rescue of the young boy Azka alive, captured on video, gave relatives and rescuers a dash of optimism.
"Once we realised Azka was alive everybody broke into tears, including me," 28-year-old local volunteer Jeksen Kolibu told AFP on Thursday.
"It was very moving, it felt like a miracle."
In the worst-hit district of Cugenang, scores of rescue workers drilled on Thursday through big slabs of concrete and removed roof tiles at a destroyed house where they believed a young girl was buried as her distraught mother watched on.
Other rescuers used digging tools, hammers and their bare hands to clear the debris in hope of finding seven-year-old Cika.
Her parents gave possible locations to rescuers for the delicate rescue mission.
"She was playing outside, I was cooking in the kitchen, suddenly the earthquake happened, so fast, only two seconds, my house collapsed," her mother Imas Masfahitah, 34, told AFP at the scene.
"My instinct tells me she is here because she liked playing here," she added, referring to the house of the girl's grandmother where the search is focused.
"Whatever happens I will try to accept it."
Sastra Winata, a firefighter involved in the rescue, said workers feared she was "running and was buried."
By Thursday afternoon, workers had prepared a stretcher to be ready for her discovery dead or alive.
With dozens still missing, rescuers used earth diggers and other heavy machinery to clear mud and debris in search of victims. Some areas that have been cut off by landslides could only be reached by helicopter.
Hopes of finding survivors were fading, officials said.
Search efforts focussed on Cijedil village, where about 30 people were thought to be buried under a landslide, Joshua Banjarnahor of the national search and rescue agency, told reporters.
Food vendor Ahman, 52, said he lost his mother, his wife, and his daughter, who he said were buried when his stall on the edge of a cliff collapsed.
"I am not expecting them to be alive because they have been buried for four days. I'm letting them go," he said.
Indonesia is one of the world's most earthquake-prone nations, regularly recording strong earthquakes offshore where fault lines run.
Monday's quake was particularly deadly because it struck a densely populated area at a depth of just 10 km (6 miles). Poor construction standards also caused buildings to collapse, leading to many deaths, officials said.
Rebuilding Cianjur must adhere to seismic design codes, said David Sanderson, a disaster risk reduction expert with the School of Built Environmentat Australia's University of New South Wales.
"Unless carefully managed, rebuilding can be sporadic, incomplete and not cognisant of future earthquake risk," he said.
courtesy of THE JAKARTA POST
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