Indonesia earthquake deaths could soar past 268 as 14,000 rescuers reach West Java

At least 150 people are still missing and some villages have been almost buried by mud

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An army of 14,000 soldiers and police has reached Indonesia's Cianjur region near the town of West Java, hit by Monday’s magnitude-5.6 earthquake that killed at least 268 people.

They scrambled over debris with drills and shovels to find survivors buried in rubble and landslides.

With the likelihood of finding people still alive diminishing every hour, rescuers also used their bare hands to pull away rocks and dirt.

Poor-quality rural roads, heavy monsoon rain and damage to hard surface roads, including cracked and shattered tarmac, have hampered the relief effort.

The number of wounded has risen to at least 1,000, with many people still being treated in makeshift tent hospitals.

Two thousand police and 12,000 soldiers have been sent to assist emergency services, ​​said Suharyanto, who goes by one name, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief.

Volunteers and rescue personnel erected more temporary shelters for those left homeless in several villages of Cianjur district.

Most were barely protected by makeshift shelters that were lashed by heavy monsoon downpours. Only a few were lucky to be protected by tarpaulin-covered tents. They said they were running low on food, blankets and other aid, as emergency supplies were rushed to the region.

Suharyanto said more than 58,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 1,000 people were hurt, with nearly 600 of them still receiving treatment for serious injuries.

He said rescuers had recovered 268 bodies from collapsed houses and landslides triggered by the earthquake, and at least 151 people were still missing.

But not all of the dead have been identified, so it is possible some of the bodies pulled from the rubble are of people on the missing list.

Rescue operations were focused on about a dozen villages in Cianjur, where people are still believed trapped, Suharyanto said.

He also said that more than 22,000 houses in Cianjur were damaged.

Updated: November 23, 2022, 6:47 AM
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