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Outdoor prayers after Indonesian quake

Hundreds of Indonesians prayed outdoors next to rice paddies and on the streets after an earthquake leveled their town in West Java and left nearly 300 people dead in their community.

On Friday, Muslim cleric Muhamad Jamhur led a prayerful congregation on an outdoor volleyball court just 200 meters from a mosque whose walls were cracked and windows shattered by the shallow 5.6 magnitude quake that struck hit the town of Cianjur, about 75 kilometers south of the city. capital Jakarta earlier this week.

“After the disaster, we are still scared. So we had to move here to this volleyball court, not to a mosque. I asked the congregation to be on guard because disaster might strike again,” Muhammad said.

Hundreds of aftershocks have rocked the mountainous region, where grieving and traumatized residents are sheltering in tents, awaiting supplies of food, water and medicine that have been slowed by heavy rains and landslides.

Food vendor Asep Hidayat, who like many others lost his home in the earthquake, said he was grateful to be able to join in the prayers, even if not in a mosque.

“Prayer must continue, even if we are in a refuge, prayer is an obligation,” he said.

The Indonesian population is predominantly Muslim.

On Friday, rescue teams continued their efforts to clean up mud and debris and remove victims. About 40 people are still missing, but hopes of finding them alive are slim, the disaster mitigation agency said.

Indonesia is one of the most earthquake-prone nations in the world, regularly recording strong earthquakes off the coast where fault lines pass.

Monday’s quake was particularly deadly as it hit a densely populated area at a depth of just 10km.

Poor building standards have also caused buildings to collapse, leading to many deaths, officials said.

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