The authorities of the city of Cianjur in Indonesia announced on Tuesday that the death toll from Monday’s earthquake had risen to 252.
An Indonesian official said on Tuesday that children who died when their schools collapsed were among those killed in the earthquake that devastated the city in West Java province, and rescuers were racing against time to reach those trapped under the rubble.
Hundreds of people were injured in the quake and authorities have warned the death toll could rise.
The 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck aarea mountain range in Indonesia’s most densely populated West Java province, causing severe damage to the city of Cianjur and a landslide that buried at least one village.
Henri Alfiande, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Pasarnas), said landslides and rugged terrain were hampering rescue efforts. “The challenge is that thearea affected is vast… In addition, the roads were damaged in these villages,” Alfiande said in a press conference, adding that more than 13,000 people have been evacuated.
“Most of the victims are children because they were still in school at 1 in the afternoon,” he said, referring to the time of the earthquake.
Officials said many of the deaths were caused by victims trapped under collapsed buildings.
On Tuesday, President Joko Widodo flew to Cianjur to motivate the rescuers. “I advise you to prioritize the evacuation of the victims who are still trapped under the rubble,” he said.
He offered his condolences to the victims and pledged emergency government support. He said the reconstruction will inevitably include housing equipped to withstand earthquakes to protect against disasters in future.
During the night, victims filled the parking lot of a hospital in Cianjur, and some were treated in makeshift tents or on the sidewalk.
“Everything collapsed under me,” Coco, 48, told Reuters from the crowded parking lot. “Two of my children survived. I pulled them out from under the rubble,” she cried, “I brought two more here and one is still missing.”
Hundreds of police officers were deployed on Tuesday morning to assist in relief efforts, national police spokesman Didi Prasetyo told state news agency Antara. “The main task for the personnel today is to focus on the evacuation of the victims,” she added.
Indonesia has a history of devastating earthquakes. And in 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coast, more than half of the Which in Indonesia.
Read More About: World News