Indonesia earthquake: Many schoolchildren killed in building collapses

Indonesia earthquake
Indonesia earthquake

Indonesia earthquake: Rescuers say many of the people killed and injured in a major earthquake that hit Indonesia’s Java island were children who were at school.

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Appraisal Mulyadi, 14, said he was “trapped after the room collapsed and my legs were buried under the debris”.

He said that he was rescued by his friend Zulfikar, who later died after getting trapped himself.

Local administration in Cianjur says the death toll has reached 252 people.

Earlier on Tuesday, Indonesia’s national disaster response agency, BNPB, confirmed the death toll at 103, with 31 missing – but warned that number was likely to rise.

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous region on Monday, triggering landslides that buried entire villages near the West Java city of Cianjur.

Victims were crushed or trapped after walls and roofs caved in. “It all happened so fast,” Aprazal told the AFP news agency.

A representative of the National Search and Rescue Agency also confirmed that many of the dead were youths.

Henry Alfiandi said, “Most of the casualties are children because at 1 a.m., they were still at school.”

The earthquake, which occurred at a shallow depth of 10 km, was followed by dozens of aftershocks, causing more damage to the area where poorly constructed houses quickly collapsed.

In Siberium village, a family was trying to retrieve the body of their eldest son – a 28-year-old man who was crushed to death when other levels of the house collapsed.

Rescue workers were struggling to clear the debris.

An army officer, First Sergeant Pykun, told the BBC: “We have to dig through the concrete of the second floor crushing the victim. But we have seen the body.”

Officials say at least 2,200 homes have collapsed and more than 13,000 people have been evacuated.

President Joko Widodo visited the remote disaster area on Tuesday where he was pictured with responders.

“My instructions are to give priority to the rescue of the victims trapped under the debris,” he said.

Authorities have deployed hundreds of police and other rescue teams to the area to help with rescue operations.

Mr Jokowi also promised emergency resources and compensation to affected communities.

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, which sits on the “Ring of Fire” zone of tectonic activity in the Pacific.

The country has a history of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, including a 2018 earthquake on the island of Sulawesi that killed more than 2,000 people.

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