Indonesian rescuers focus on landslide as quake toll rises

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On the fourth day of an increasingly urgent search, Indonesian rescuers limited their work on Thursday to a landslide where dozens of people would be trapped after an earthquake that killed at least 271 people, including more than a third of children.

Many of the more than 1,000 rescuers are using backhoe loaders, sniffer dogs and life detectors – along with jackhammers and bare hands – to speed up the search in the worst-hit area of ​​Cijendil village, where a landslide triggered Monday’s quake. left tons of mud, rocks and trees. Around 40 victims are believed to be still trapped in the ground and rubble of collapsed buildings in Cugenang sub-district.

Rescuers are also working on other affected areas to ensure there are no more casualties to evacuate, said Henri Alfiandi, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

“We hope that all the victims can be found soon,” Alfiandi said Thursday.

On Wednesday, researchers rescued a 6-year-old boy who had been trapped for two days under the rubble of his collapsed home.

More than 2,000 people were injured in the quake which displaced at least 61,000 people to evacuation centers and other shelters after at least 56,000 homes were damaged. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said 171 public facilities had been destroyed, including 31 schools.

Suharyanto, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said 100 of the 271 confirmed deaths were children.

Rescue efforts had been temporarily suspended on Wednesday as heavy monsoon rains fell.

Monday’s magnitude 5.6 earthquake is not generally expected to cause serious damage. But the quake was shallow and rocked a densely populated area that lacks earthquake-resistant infrastructure. Weak aftershocks continued through Thursday morning.

More than 2.5 million people live in the mountainous district of Cianjur, including about 175,000 in its main town, which bears the same name.

President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur on Tuesday and pledged to rebuild its infrastructure and provide aid of up to 50 million rupees ($3,180) to each resident whose house was damaged.

Indonesia is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific basin known as the “Ring of Fire”.

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Associated Press writer Edna Tarigan in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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