In the fourth day of an increasingly urgent search, Indonesian rescuers on Thursday scaled back their work in a landslide where dozens are believed to be trapped after a quake that killed at least 271 people, more than a third of them children.
On Wednesday, researchers rescued a 6-year-old boy who had been trapped for two days under the rubble of his collapsed house.
Many of the more than 1,000 rescue workers are using backhoe loaders, sniffer dogs and life detectors – as well as hammers and bare hands – to speed up the search in the worst-hit area of the village of Cijendil, where a landslide triggered by Monday’s earthquake left masses of mud, rocks and trees.
About 40 victims are still believed to be trapped in the soil and rubble of collapsed buildings in Cugenang sub-district.
Rescue workers are also working in other affected areas to make sure there are no more victims who need to be evacuated, said Henri Alfiandi, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.
“We hope that all the victims can be found soon,” Alfiandi said Thursday.
More than 2,000 people were injured in the earthquake that displaced at least 61,000 people to evacuation centers and other shelters after at least 56,000 houses were damaged.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has said 171 public facilities were 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 when heavy monsoon rains fell.
Monday’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake is not typically expected to cause serious damage.
But the quake was shallow and shook a densely populated area that lacks earthquake-resistant infrastructure. Weak aftershocks continued until Thursday morning.
More than 2.5 million people live in the mountainous Cianjur district, including about 175,000 in its capital, which bears the same name.
President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur on Tuesday and pledged to rebuild its infrastructure and provide assistance of up to 50 million rupiah ($3,180) to each resident whose house was damaged.
Indonesia is frequently affected by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on the volcanic arc and fault lines in the Pacific basin known as the “Ring of Fire”.
(FRENCH 24 with AP)