Quake Rescue Efforts In Indonesia Focus On Landslide-Hit Villages

Traumatised relatives are awaiting news of loved ones missing after an earthquake hit the town of Cianjur in Indonesia’s West Java on Monday, unleashing landslides thought to have buried nearby villages.

More heavy machinery was deployed to clear the landslides on Wednesday with the death toll from the magnitude 5.6 quake reaching 268. More than 150 people are missing.

One of the worst-hit districts is Cugenang, where it is believed at least one village was buried by a landslide.

“If it was just an earthquake, only the houses would collapse, but this is worse because of the landslide,” said Zainuddin, who was searching for six missing relatives.

“In this residential area, there were eight houses, all of which were buried and swept away.”

More than 1,000 police officers have been deployed to bolster search and rescue teams.

Officials said about 25 houses there had been swept towards the river below by the collapsing earth. About five bodies had been found, she said, as rescue workers and residents dug through the mud to find survivors.

“Everywhere there are the items of everyday life – children’s toys, plates and other things – looking almost untouched,” she said.

Indonesia is one of the most earthquake-prone countries on Earth and regularly records stronger offshore earthquakes. But Monday’s tremor was particularly deadly as it struck in a densely populated area at a shallow depth of just 10km (6 miles).

Officials also said poor building standards led to many deaths.

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