Tears and panic amid ruins after deadly earthquake in Indonesia

published on Monday, November 21, 2022 at 6:44 p.m.

Panicked residents in search of refuge, wounded transported on motorcycles, overwhelmed hospitals … The Indonesian city of Cianjur, the most devastated by the earthquake which struck the island of Java on Monday, has descended into chaos and fear, and now searches for his survivors.

The three hospitals are unable to cope with the influx of injured — hundreds according to authorities — caused by the 5.6 magnitude quake at a shallow depth near Cianjur. Also, the emergency services treat the victims outside the buildings.

The earthquake killed at least 162 people.

Agus Azhari, 19, was with his mother in the family home when their living room was destroyed in seconds. Sections of the walls and the ceiling crashed to the floor, and pieces of furniture and other debris injured his legs and hands.

“I couldn’t see anything. The dust blinded me for a while,” the young man told AFP, claiming to have never experienced such an earthquake.

He then shows a video where we see his mother shouting: “God have mercy on us! my house!”. The building is shaken on all sides.

“I pulled my mother by the hand and we ran outside.” “I heard people screaming for help all around me,” he says. “My mother looked at her house and burst into tears”.

Residents are transporting bodies to Cianjur hospital in pick-ups or on motorbikes. But there, power cuts prevent caregivers from providing all the necessary care.

The wounded are seated on stretchers or blankets. Elderly women wait in wheelchairs to be examined.

– “I could not do anything” –

In another hospital, in Cimacan, victims arrive covered in blood; parents search for their missing children; several elderly women are taken on stretchers to green tents erected in front of the hospital.

Dozens of aftershocks occurred after the main tremor, further heightening panic among residents.

The earthquake also caused landslides. Bulldozers were mobilized to clear the roads, and rescuers to help the victims.

A woman and her baby were pulled alive from the debris but many other people lost their lives.

Oman, a 55-year-old man who like many compatriots has only one name, was cooking fried rice in a village near Cianjur when the walls of his house began to shake.

“All of a sudden I found myself crushed in my house. I couldn’t move in the debris. My wife was outside.”

His feet, legs and hands were crushed, but his son managed to extract him from the ruins. “I don’t know where to go, but at least I’m alive,” says Oman.

The search for survivors was expected to continue late into the night as residents are just beginning to realize the extent of the disaster.


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