Indonesian rescuers search through rubble of quake; 268 dead

As they sought to find the missing and dead from the earthquake that claimed at least 268 lives, Indonesian rescuers used jackhammers and circular saws Tuesday.

Many people were left behind, many more injured and others still missing in remote areas. The death toll from the 5.6 magnitude earthquake was expected to rise. The hospitals near the epicenter of the densely populated Java island were already overcrowded. Patients receiving IV drips were placed on stretchers, in tents outside, and then transferred to the hospital.

Many earthquakes are often felt in Indonesia, some much more powerful than Monday’s. This would normally cause only minor damage. Experts believe that the earthquake was shallow and the inadequate infrastructure caused severe damage. This included collapsed roofs and large piles made of bricks, concrete and corrugated steel.

The earthquake was felt in the Cianjur mountainous region. One woman claimed that her house started shaking like dancing after the earthquake.


Partinem, who is like many Indonesians, only has one name, said that she was crying. After Partinem escaped with her family, the house quickly collapsed.

She sat down and looked at the pile of concrete and timber, “If they didn’t get them out, we might also have been victims.”

Cianjur district is home to more than 2.5 million people, with 175,000 living in the main city.

The earthquake struck at a depth 10 km (6.2 miles). It also caused panic in Jakarta, the capital.

Suharyanto (the head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency) told reporters that at least 1,083 people had been injured and that there were at most 151 missing. However, not all the dead have been identified so it is possible that some of the bodies found in the rubble may be of those on the missing list.

Rescue operations were concentrated on around a dozen Cianjur locations where people are believed to be trapped, according to Endra Atmawidjaja (public works and housing spokesperson).

Atmawidjaja stated, “We are racing against the clock to rescue people.”

The initial rescue efforts were hampered initially by damage to roads and bridges, power outages and a shortage of equipment to move the heavy rubble. Atmawidjaja stated that power supplies and telephone communications had improved by Tuesday. He also said that seven excavators had been sent from nearby areas and that 10 large trucks had been dispatched to clear roads.

According to Henri Alfiandi (chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency), the earthquake triggered a landslide in Cijedil that blocked roads and buried many houses.

“We are optimizing operations at several points where there is suspicion that there are still casualties. He said that the team was also working to reach remote areas.

Many of the victims were students from public schools who had just finished school for the day. They were also taking lessons at Islamic schools. Ridwan Kamil stated.

Kamil stated that more than 13,000 homes had been severely damaged and were evacuated. However, thousands remained awake at night fearing the aftershocks.

Cargo trucks transporting food, blankets, and other supplies from Jakarta, arrived in temporary shelters on Tuesday morning.

Many waited outside the Cianjur Regional Hospital for treatment.

“I was inside my office building. Although the building was not damaged by the earthquake, many items fell as it shook strongly. Dwi Sarmadi, a worker for an Islamic educational foundation in a nearby district, said that his leg was affected by heavy stuff.

After being refused treatment at several clinics, he was left waiting outside the hospital. Many others were in worse condition. He said, “I really hope that they can handle me quickly.”

Hasan, a worker in construction who goes by one name, was also taken into the hospital.

“I fainted. Hasan said that it was extremely strong. “I saw my friends running from the building to escape. It was too late for me to escape, so I was struck by the wall.

On Tuesday, President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur and promised to rebuild infrastructure including the main bridge linking Cianjur with other cities. He also pledged government assistance of up to 50 million rupees ($3,180) for each victim whose home was damaged.

After visiting survivors at shelters set up on a soccer pitch, he said: “In behalf of myself as well as the government, we would like to offer our deepest condolences”

Because of its position on the Pacific Basin fault lines and the arc of volcanic eruptions in the region known as the “Ring of Fire”, the country of more than 269 million people is often struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.

A magnitude-6.2 earthquake in West Sumatra province killed at least 25 people and left more than 460 injured. A magnitude-6.2 earthquake in West Sulawesi province killed over 100 people and left nearly 6,500 others injured.

In 2004, 230,000 people were killed in an Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake. Most of these victims were in Indonesia.