Hopes are fading for survivors in Indonesia, while 40 people are still missing


The dead have reached 271 – The residents of Sianjur have started burying their relatives after receiving their bodies from the mortuaries.

The death toll from the earthquake that hit Indonesia on Monday has reached 271 and the tragic death toll is expected to exceed 300.

Another 40 people are missing on the outskirts of the city of Sianjur in West Java province, as aftershocks and heavy rains hamper the work of rescuers.

Due to the bad weather conditions and the aftershocks that are still felt even today, it is difficult the work of the rescuers, who are looking for survivors in about ten villages where more than 20,000 houses have been destroyed.

Read about: Indonesia: ‘Nothing left, everything buried’

Search and rescue operations were today focused on Kugenang, one of the worst-hit areas, where at least one village is believed to have been buried under mudslides.

In the meantime, two villages, particularly isolated, remain cut off from the rest of the country, as the head of rescue services, Henry Alfiante, said in a video he posted on social media.

“People there can’t even call for help,” he added, noting that three helicopters have been sent to the area to transport aid. Residents remain trapped without water and electricity and some are forced to sleep next to their dead, he stressed.

In areas closer to Sianjur, residents search among the ruins for their personal belongings: religious books, marriage certificates, family photos.

In the meantime the residents of Sianjur have started burying their relatives after receiving their bodies from the mortuaries.

More than 58,000 people have been displaced by the earthquake, according to the country’s disaster management agency. The government has deployed several thousand military and police officers and is offering food and tents to those affected, but the needs are immense.

Risk of landslides

At the same time, the Indonesian authorities warned of the risk of a new natural disaster. During the rainy season, which has already started and peaks in December, landslides and flash floods occur in the archipelago.

The weather service has predicted thunderstorms, possibly dangerous for the next few days.

“We have to be careful in view of a possible second natural disaster, such as landslides,” said the head of the meteorological service Duikorita Karnawati.

“We need to quickly remove the materials and debris that are blocking the water flows on the highest hills,” he added.

Indonesia is located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where tectonic plates meet and is often faced with strong earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In 2004 a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that hit 14 countries and killed 226,000 people – more than half of them Indonesians.


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