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Cianjur quake death toll rises to 268

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2022

Dio Suhenda and Adi Marsiela, Jakarta – Aid from the government continues to pour into Cianjur regency in West Java, with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also traveling to the scene of Monday's earthquake that left more than 200 people dead.

Rescue workers are racing to find more than 100 people who are still listed as missing.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded on Tuesday afternoon that 268 people had died, but they have only identified 122 of the fatalities. Some 1,080 people were reported injured and 151 people remain missing.

"We are still investigating whether or not the 151 people [who are missing] are among the [fatalities] who have not yet been identified," BNPB head Lt. Gen. Suharyanto said.

More than 58,300 people have been evacuated and at least 12,600 houses are heavily damaged, while 6,500 and 2,000 other houses suffered moderate and mild damage, respectively, authorities said.

Rizky Utama, one of the medical workers at Cimacan Hospital, said as of Tuesday morning, the hospital had handled a total of 237 victims, with 13 among them dead.

The impact of the quake in Cianjur has attracted national attention, with Jokowi, along with a number of his Cabinet members, paying a visit to the regency on Tuesday.

"My instruction is to prioritize rescuing victims who are still trapped under the rubble," Jokowi said.

He said each owner of a severely damaged house would get Rp 50 million (US$3,188) in cash aid, owners of houses with medium or mild damage will get Rp 25 million and Rp 10 million, respectively.

The central government, via the BNPB, has handed the Cianjur administration Rp 500 million worth of food and other emergency supplies and Rp 1.5 billion in emergency funds (DSP) to help those affected by the quake.

The BNPB has set up a centralized command post to help streamline aid distribution, data collection and to coordinate the search-and-rescue efforts over the coming days, Suharyanto said.

The Cianjur administration declared on Tuesday a state of emergency for the next 30 days.

Road to recovery

Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, who arrived in Cianjur on Monday night, has deployed six excavators and six dump trucks to help reconnect severed sections along the Cianjur-Cipanas road.

"We were able to clear through a stretch of the road that was previously blocked by debris from landslides that followed the earthquake," ministry spokesman Endra S. Atmawidjaja said on Tuesday.

State electricity company PLN reported on Tuesday that power had been restored to 89 percent of customers following an outage after the earthquake.

The Health Ministry has sent 22 medical personnel and an ambulance to Cianjur. This adds to the 26 personnel and three ambulances sent by the Port Health Office (KKP) and three surgeons sent by the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI).

Meanwhile, the army has deployed some 1,000 personnel to Cianjur to aid in evacuation centers and the Social Affairs Ministry has sent a team to help set up emergency tents.

The education ministry is currently assessing how many schools and children were affected by the disaster amid reports that many schoolchildren were among the 268 deaths.

Faulty buildings

Authorities have pointed to the fact that Monday's earthquake was a shallow-land based crustal quake, with an epicenter just 10 kilometers below the surface in neighboring Sukabumi regency's Sukalarang district, as a reason for the hefty damage toll.

The mountainous Sukabumi and Cianjur regions are located over active tectonic plates.

A total of 145 aftershocks – ranging in magnitude from 1.2 to 4.2 – have been recorded since Monday, with officials warning more landslides could follow in coming weeks.

"Because the soil is not consolidated enough, it will strengthen the effects of an earthquake," Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center (PVMBG) head Hendra Gunawan said. "Not to mention that the source of the quake was shallow, not far from an active fault. So it's not surprising that [Cianjur] was badly affected by the earthquake."

The damage was further compounded by poorly constructed houses built on top of unconsolidated soil in areas prone to earthquakes, he said.

"This indeed still [requires] a lot of work going forward, and in this case [it is the jurisdiction] of the Public Works and Housing Ministry to implement building recommendations," he said.

President Jokowi has also called attention to unstable buildings, saying that it is imperative for the heavily damaged houses to be reconstructed using earthquake-resistant building materials.

"Because earlier the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency [BMKG] said that this earthquake is a once every 20 years occurrence, we are aiming [to build] earthquake-resistant houses," he said.

– Theresia Sufa contributed to the story from Cianjur.

Source: https://asianews.network/cianjur-quake-death-toll-rises-to-268