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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Search Effort Intensifies after Indonesia Quake Killed 271


Wed 23 Nov 2022 | 12:55 PM
By Ahmad El-Assasy

On Indonesia's largest island, Java, more rescuers and volunteers were sent in to help with the hunt for the missing and dead following an earthquake that left at least 271 people dead.

The death toll from the 5.6 magnitude earthquake on Monday was anticipated to grow because many people are still unaccounted for, some isolated places are still inaccessible, and more than 2,000 people were injured. Patients hooked up to IV drips lied on stretchers and cots in tents set up outside in the densely populated island's vicinity of the epicenter, waiting for further treatment. Hospitals close to the epicentre were already overflowing.

According to Suharyanto, the head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, more than 12,000 army men were sent on Wednesday to strengthen the search operations being conducted by more than 2,000 joint forces of police, the search and rescue agency, and volunteers.

Suharyanto, who, like many Indonesians, only goes by one name, claimed that relief was getting to the thousands of displaced individuals who had retreated to makeshift shelters where supplies could only be delivered on foot across the difficult terrain.

He claimed that on Wednesday, rescuers found three bodies and freed a 6-year-old child who had been buried under the debris of his fallen home for two days. The boy was discovered alive next to the dead body of his grandma.

In the most severely damaged region of Cijendil village, where tonnes of mud, rocks, and trees were left after a landslide, television reports showed police, military, and other rescue personnel urgently excavating with jackhammers, circular saws, and occasionally only their bare hands and farm equipment.

Finding bodies and survivors wherever they might be seems to be the government's first priority. After an earthquake caused landslides to cause landslides to tumble onto the hillside hamlets, authorities struggled to get tractors and other heavy equipment over washed-out roads.

Nevertheless, locals complained that the government was reluctant to act after the earthquake.

When the tragedy occurred, 48-year-old Muhammad Tohir was in his living room in Cijendil with his family. Although his family was able to escape, his sister and her two children were killed by a landslide that occurred within a few miles (kilometres) of his home.

"I was devastated by what I saw when I came to my sister's house," Tohir said. "Landslides had buried dozens of homes. … I sense impending disaster."

He claimed that at least 45 people, including Tohir's sister and her two children, were buried alive under tonnes of mud in the Cijendil district where his sister lived.

Tohir and other locals searched for the missing using farm tools, and they were able to extricate two bodies from beneath up to 6 metres (10 feet) of mud. Rescue personnel showed up to aid with the search two days later.

Tohir remarked, "The administration is responding to this calamity too slowly. He said, "They ought to be bringing in heavy machinery to hurry things up."

However, he vowed that he would persist until his sister and his nieces could be extricated from the muck.

The government has sent out military soldiers with food, medicine, blankets, field tents, and water tankers to distribute water, food, and medical supplies in a number of hard-hit districts.

In various communities in the Cianjur district, volunteers and rescue workers built more temporary shelters for families who were left without homes.

As heavy rain delayed their efforts, about 800 police, military, and volunteers sifted through the wreckage using only their bare hands, shovels, and hoes.

The search effort was put on hold on Wednesday afternoon because to heavy rains that made the landslide regions unstable, according to Arif Yulianto, the coordinator of the search and rescue operation. On Thursday am, the procedure will be resumed.

The majority were only marginally shielded from the monsoon rains by improvised shelters. Only a few few were fortunate enough to have tents covered in tarpaulin. As emergency supplies were brought to the area, they claimed they were running low on food, blankets, and other relief.

According to Suharyanto, more than 58,000 survivors were relocated to shelters, and 2,043 persons suffered injuries, about 600 of them are currently undergoing serious injury care.

He claimed that although fatalities had been found in landslides and destroyed houses brought on by the earthquake, there were still roughly 40 persons missing. However, not all of the 271 deceased have been located, so it's likely that some of the bodies discovered among the wreckage belong to persons who were listed as missing.

Around a dozen villages in Cianjur were the focus of rescue efforts since Suharyanto suspected that there may still be trapped individuals there.

Suharyanto reported that more than 56,230 homes in Cianjur were damaged during a news conference on Wednesday.