Indonesia struggles to get aid to quake survivors, rescue continues

AFP

Indonesian authorities struggled on Thursday to get aid to thousands of people displaced by a deadly earthquake in western Java, as rain-triggered landslides and difficult mountainous terrain hampered the efforts of rescue teams.

Monday's 5.6-magnitude earthquake in the town of Cianjur, about 75 km south of the capital Jakarta, killed at least 271 people and left thousands sheltering in tents with scant medical and aid supplies.

Suharyanto, the disaster mitigation agency chief, said on Thursday many had not received aid and nearly 200 volunteers were deployed to help distribute water, instant food, tents and diapers.

Survivors, including the elderly and small children, huddled inside military tents set up some distance away from devastated villages, while others queued up to receive aid packets from volunteers.

In Sukamanah village, residents said they were having to ration food and were short of supplies for children, including medicines, diapers and milk.

President Joko Widodo visited the site of the quake for a second time on Thursday and urged that aid distribution and rescue efforts continue as quickly as possible

"The 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 needed."

HOPES FADING

With dozens still missing, rescuers used earth diggers and other heavy machinery to clear mud and debris in search of victims. Some areas that have been cut off by landslides could only be reached by helicopter.

Hopes of finding survivors were fading, officials said.

Search efforts focussed on Cijedil village, where about 30 people were thought to be buried under a landslide, Joshua Banjarnahor of the national search and rescue agency, told reporters.

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