©Health & Fitness Journal. Local people are accommodated in a makeshift tent after Monday’s earthquake struck Cianjur, West Java province, Indonesia, November 24, 2022. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana 2/8
By Stefanno Sulaiman
CIANJUR, Indonesia (Health & Fitness Journal) – Indonesian authorities on Thursday struggled to get aid to thousands of people displaced by a deadly earthquake in West Java as rain-triggered landslides and difficult mountainous terrain hampered rescue teams’ efforts.
Monday’s 5.6-magnitude earthquake in the city of Cianjur, some 75 km (50 miles) south of the capital Jakarta, killed at least 272 people and left thousands sheltered in tents with scant medical and relief supplies.
Suharyanto, the head of the disaster management agency, said Thursday many had not received any aid and nearly 5,000 volunteers had been deployed to help distribute water, ready meals, tents and diapers.
Aid distribution is getting better as roadblocks eased, he said later Thursday.
Survivors, including the elderly and young children, crowded into military tents set up some distance from devastated villages, while others queued to receive aid packages from volunteers.
In Sukamanah village, residents said they were being rationed and lacked children’s supplies, including medicines, diapers and milk.
Ema Hermawati, the village head’s wife, said there was a lack of sanitation as garbage began to pile up and there was no running water or portable toilets.
President Joko Widodo visited the quake site for the second time on Thursday and urged that aid distribution and rescue efforts continue as soon as possible
“Conditions are steep,” he said of the rugged terrain, adding there was a shortage of tents and water. “It’s still raining and there are still aftershocks. The ground is shaky so caution is advised.”
Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the aftershocks are expected to stabilize within the next week but warned of landslides and flooding due to the rainy season.
With dozens still missing, rescuers used earth movers and other heavy machinery to clear mud and debris in search of victims. Some areas cut off by landslides could only be reached by helicopter.
Hopes of finding survivors were dwindling, officials said.
Search efforts were focused on the village of Cijedil, where about 30 people were believed to have been buried under a landslide, Joshua Banjarnahor of the national search and rescue agency told reporters.
Food seller Ahman, 52, said he lost his mother, wife and daughter, who were buried when his stand collapsed on the edge of a cliff.
“I don’t expect them to be alive because they’ve been buried for four days. I’ll let her go,” he said.
One of the world’s most earthquake-prone nations, Indonesia regularly records strong earthquakes off the coast where fault lines run.
Monday’s quake was particularly deadly because it struck a densely populated area at a depth of just 10 km (6 miles). Poor construction standards also caused buildings to collapse, resulting in many deaths, officials said.
Cianjur’s reconstruction must conform to seismic design codes, said David Sanderson, a disaster risk reduction expert at the School of Built Environment at the Australian University of New South Wales.
“If reconstruction is not done carefully, it can be sporadic, incomplete, and without knowledge of future seismic risk,” he said.