7-year-old Indonesian girl found dead after days of earthquake rescue operation
A seven-year-old Indonesian girl who was the subject of a days-long rescue effort after an earthquake in West Java killed 272 people was found dead, rescue workers told AFP news agency on Friday.
Rescue workers found the body of Ashika Nur Fauziah, also known as Cika, under rubble in the city’s worst-hit neighborhood of Cianjur, the epicenter of the quake that triggered landslides, collapsed roofs, walls and buried victims in mounds on Monday.
“The body was immediately given to the family. The family accepted and she was then buried,” rescuer Jeksen Kolibu, 28, told AFP.
“The family was very hysterical. They were very sad. The mother was the one who received the body.”
Dozens of rescuers had spent most of Thursday using digging tools, hammers and their bare hands to clear debris in the delicate mission, which was suspended overnight through Friday morning.
Cika was found under three layers of concrete, Kolibu said.
The focus of the search was her grandmother’s house across from the family home, where her mother believed she was playing when the earthquake struck.
“She was playing outside, I was cooking in the kitchen, suddenly the earthquake happened, so fast, just two seconds, my house collapsed,” her mother Imas Masfahitah, 34, told AFP on Thursday.
“Whatever happens, I’ll try to accept it,” she added, crying as she clutched her daughter’s sandals.
Hopes for a happy ending had been raised after the dramatic rescue of a six-year-old boy, Azka, on Wednesday night, which was described as a “miracle”, after he survived more than two days in the rubble without food and water.
“The mother was very hopeful. Azka survived, Cika didn’t. That makes me sad,” said Kolibu.
Before Cika was found, authorities said 39 people were still missing as rescue efforts continued to be hampered by torrential rain and potentially deadly aftershocks.