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Indonesian rescuers focus on landslide as earthquake count rises

Remark

CIANJUR, Indonesia — On the fourth day of an increasingly urgent search, Indonesian rescuers on Thursday confined their work to a landslide that left dozens trapped after an earthquake that killed at least 271 people, more than a third of them children.

Many of the more than 1,000 rescuers are using backhoe loaders, sniffer dogs and life detectors — as well as jackhammers and bare hands — to speed up the search in the hardest-hit area of ​​Cijendil village, where a landslide from Monday’s earthquake sent tons of mud, rocks and trees abandoned. About 40 victims are believed to still be trapped in the ground and rubble of collapsed buildings in Cugenang sub-district.

Rescue workers are also working on 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 victims can be found soon,” Alfiandi said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, searchers rescued a 6-year-old boy who was trapped under the rubble of his collapsed house for two days.

More than 2,000 people were injured in the quake that drove at least 61,000 people to evacuation centers and other shelters after at least 56,000 homes 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 were temporarily suspended on Wednesday due to heavy monsoon rains.

Monday’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake usually won’t cause serious damage. But the quake was shallow and shook a densely populated area with no earthquake-resistant infrastructure. Weak aftershocks continued into Thursday morning.

More than 2.5 million people live in the mountainous district of Cianjur, of which about 175,000 live in the capital of the same name.

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

Indonesia is frequently affected 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”.

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

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