Death toll from Indonesia earthquake reaches 271

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The death toll from Monday’s 5.6-magnitude quake in the Indonesian town of Cianjur has risen to 271.

Indonesia’s chief of disaster mitigation agency said on Wednesday that 40 people were still missing.

Driving rain and the danger of landslides has disrupted the work of rescue workers searching for survivors with an official warning that time was running out for anyone trapped in the rubble.

Helicopters were due to drop food and water to two villages that could not be reached by road, said Henri Alfiandi, chief of the search and rescue agency.

He said the chances of anyone trapped in rubble surviving three days after the quake were increasingly slim but the danger of aftershocks triggering more landslides down rain-soaked slopes had delayed his teams.

“Because the quake was quite strong and raining, we feared there would be landslides. But we have continued the evacuation process now,” Henri said.

Authorities were working to bring in more heavy machinery to clear the landslides. Around 6,000 rescuers have been dispatched, said the disaster mitigation agency.

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Officials said there had been more than 170 aftershocks including a 3.9 magnitude one on Wednesday afternoon.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said there was an urgent need for extra help for patients in quake-damaged hospitals.

Indonesia is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone nations, regularly recording strong earthquakes offshore where fault lines run.

But Monday’s quake was so deadly because it struck a densely populated area at a shallow depth of just 10 km (6 miles).

Officials said poor building standards led to many deaths.

President Joko Widodo called for earthquake-proof housing to be included in reconstruction efforts when he visited the disaster zone on Tuesday.


Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters