Indonesia quake survivors ask for supplies as rescuers haul debris

Indonesia quake survivors ask for supplies as rescuers haul debris


Survivors of an Indonesian earthquake that killed at least 268 people begged for food and water on Wednesday as rescuers searched devastated villages hoping to find someone who was alive.

The calls for help came as authorities warned debris from landslides caused by the powerful quake near the West Java town of Cianjur would need to be cleared ahead of heavy rains forecast in the coming weeks, which will trigger a second disaster threaten.

Two days after the quake leveled their homes, residents were still trying to recover priceless belongings such as family photos, religious books and marriage certificates.

“Although some supplies have arrived, that is not enough. We got rice, instant noodles and bottled water, but it’s not enough,” Mustafa, a 23-year-old resident of Gasol village, told AFP.

He had just rummaged through the rubble of an elderly neighbor’s house at her request, emerging from the ruined facade with a pile of clothes before returning for rice, a gas stove, canisters and frying pans.

“We have no clothes and we haven’t changed in days, so I’m digging through the rubble to find clothes.”

The government has sent tents and other supplies to Cianjur for the displaced, but another resident appealed to Jakarta to send more supplies over the shortage.

“My child has a fever and cannot eat. There are many children and elderly people here. Children need milk, diapers, food and medicine,” said 30-year-old Yunisa Yuliani.

Indonesia is prone to landslides and flash floods during the rainy season, which has already begun and will peak in West Java in December. Heavy thunderstorms are forecast for Cianjur in the coming weeks.

The country’s meteorology agency warned the city of another disaster just days after homes were destroyed and loved ones buried under rubble.

“We must be vigilant for a possible second disaster like a landslide,” Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“The urgent step is to control piles of fallen material,” she said.

The number of aftershocks from the agency’s tremor has risen to 145, with magnitudes ranging from 1.2 to 4.2, Karnawati said.

– Deadliest quake since 2018 –

On Tuesday, Cianjur residents began mourning their loved ones and burying them according to their Islamic beliefs after authorities released them from the mortuary.

And there are fears of even deadlier scenes as the heavy rains approach.

In February, an earthquake in West Pasaman, Sumatra, killed several people and left the region’s soil unstable and vulnerable to rainfall that would cause landslides weeks later.

Karnawati said rivers blocked by landslides or debris triggered flash flooding in West Pasaman and warned the same could happen in Cianjur.

“We urgently need to remove materials and debris blocking the rivers in the upper hills,” she said.

Indonesia is subject to frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide.

Monday’s quake was the deadliest in the archipelago since a 2018 earthquake and resulting tsunami that killed more than 4,000 people on the big island of Sulawesi.

A magnitude 6.2 quake that struck the island of Sulawesi in January 2021 killed more than 100 people and left thousands homeless.

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