Search continues for missing people after Indonesia earthquake

Search and rescue teams in Indonesia worked Wednesday to find people still missing from the 5.6-magnitude earthquake that struck Cianjur in West Java on Monday afternoon.

The head of the disaster agency, Suharyanto, told reporters Tuesday night that 151 people were still missing and searchers will go through every rubble from the destroyed buildings to find them.

The quake killed at least 268 people and injured more than 1,000. There were more than 58,000 people displaced and 22,000 houses damaged.

Many of the dead were children who were at school when the quake hit Indonesia’s most populous province.

“When the earthquake happened, my daughter Nur Alika was still in school,” Ayu Rahayu told VOA. “Her friends of hers told me that she was the last one to leave the class in a panic. She fell under the rubble of the building. I tried to find her since 2 pm, right after the earthquake hit us. I found her at 6 p.m. at the emergency post in front of this hospital”.

Seven-year-old Nur Alika is in first grade at Benjod Elementary School in Cianjur. His head and eye are severely injured.

At the same emergency post in the Cianjur hospital parking lot, VOA also met with Dede (one name only).

“My wife and kids were at home when all of a sudden it shook, it collapsed, it hit the ground,” Dede said. “My youngest daughter Salmatu Sa’adah, 4 years old, was badly injured. Her right hand was broken. There is blood on her head.”

Dede’s wife and first child have only minor injuries, but decided to stay out in the open in the Cianjur hospital parking lot.

“We can’t go home, our house has collapsed, we have nowhere to go,” Dede added.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil confirmed that most of the victims were children.

“We are very concerned because the earthquake occurred when the children were in school, madrasa (Islamic boarding school). We will find those who are still missing,” Kamil said.

The governor also singled out poorly constructed school buildings and public facilities in the area.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo traveled to Cianjur on Tuesday and instructed teams to “prioritize the search and evacuation of the victims who are still trapped under the rubble.”

He also called for entering areas that are still inaccessible due to landslides caused by the earthquake. “If you can’t go by land, use the helicopter,” Jokowi said.

The president also ordered the immediate repair of all public facilities and housing.

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