At least 100 children dead in Indonesia quake
(Update 1: changes headline, adds child death toll, updates death toll, adds detail throughout)
Jakarta, Nov 23 (EFE).- At least 100 children have died in the shallow earthquake that shook Indonesia’s West Java province, according to the latest count provided by authorities on Wednesday.
The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure (BNPB) also raised the death toll from Monday’s magnitude 5.6 quake to 271, of which 37% were children, while over 2,000 people were wounded.
Rescue teams were racing against the clock to find 40 persons reported missing since the quake struck the country’s most populous province near the town of Cianjur, 75 kilometers from Jakarta.
Emergency services found three bodies in the rubble Wednesday and a six-year-old boy named Azka, who was found alive next to his grandmother’s body, the BNPB reported.
The earthquake occurred on Monday at 1:21 p.m. local time (6:21 GMT), during school hours, and wreaked havoc across nearly 80 educational centers resulting in a high number of child deaths, according to NGO Save the Children Indonesia.
“We don’t know yet how many children have been injured or killed but this earthquake struck when classrooms were full of children. Many fled in tears, not knowing what was happening,” Fadli Usman, head of Save the Children’s response team in Cianjur, said in a Tuesday statement.
“Children are terrified and we need to get food, water and shelter to them and ensure they’re not at risk of separation from parents and caregivers,” Usman added.
It is unknown how many victims remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.
Several access roads to more remote areas are blocked by landslides which have further hampered rescued efforts.
The authorities warned that the number of deaths, injuries and disappearances may increase “considerably” over time.
More than 2,900 responders — including firefighters, volunteers and National Search and Rescue officers — are working for a third consecutive day to search for survivors amid “multiple obstacles” due to the size of the affected areas and the poor conditions on the ground after the quake, officials have said.
“The obstacles we face are because the distribution or reach of the affected areas is quite wide. In addition, the victim’s data can change at any time,” the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), Henri Alfiandi, said in a statement Wednesday.
The operations were concentrating on 12 areas including Cianjur, the epicenter of the earthquake, although specific searches were also being carried out in other localities.
Authorities were also working to assist the nearly 60,000 people displaced by the tragedy, many of whom are sheltering in makeshift camps.
The BNPB has installed tents in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake, while teams of volunteers are providing those affected with water, food, clothing, blankets and medical aid.
Monday’s earthquake is the second deadliest in the country since 2018, when an earthquake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi killed more than 4,000 people.EFE