Five-year-old boy rescued from earthquake debris in Indonesia after two days | Indonesia

Driving rain and the threat of landslides disrupted the work of Indonesian rescuers on Wednesday searching for survivors of an earthquake that killed 271 people, with an official warning that time is running out for anyone trapped.

As the search continued, rescuers pulled a five-year-old boy from the rubble, who had survived because he was protected by a mattress.

In a video of the rescue posted by a local fire department, Azka, who had been trapped for two days, appeared conscious and calm as he was pulled to safety.

“[Azka] is fine now, not injured,” said his relative Salman Alfarisi, 22, holding Azka’s hand near a makeshift tent in the hospital parking lot, adding that his mother had died. “The doctor said he’s only weak because he’s hungry.

‘He wants to go home now. He asked about his mother.”

Monday’s magnitude 5.6 earthquake wreaked havoc in the mountain town of Cianjur, in the mountains about 75 kilometers south of the capital Jakarta, with 40 people still missing. Recovery efforts focused on Cugenang, one of the hardest hit districts, where at least one village is believed to have been buried by a landslide.

According to search and rescue chief Henri Alfiandi, helicopters would drop food and water in two villages that could not be reached by road. He said the chances of anyone trapped in the rubble surviving three days after the quake were getting smaller and that the danger of aftershocks triggering more landslides on rain-soaked slopes had slowed his teams.

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

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Ai Nurjanah, 48, said she was trapped under fallen concrete for about 15 minutes after the quake, protecting her four-year-old daughter beneath her. They were sleeping when the earthquake hit.

“I’ll keep screaming for help until I have no voice left,” she said. “My daughter was crying, ‘Mommy, it’s dark, I can’t breathe.'”

Authorities were in the process of deploying more heavy machinery to clear the landslides. About 6,000 rescue workers have been dispatched, according to the disaster response service. Officials said there had been more than 170 aftershocks on Wednesday afternoon, including one with a magnitude of 3.9.

At a hospital in Cianjur, patients were treated outside in tents for fear of aftershocks, an employee said.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said there was an urgent need for additional assistance for patients in earthquake-damaged hospitals. Indonesia is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries and regularly records strong earthquakes off the coast where fault lines run.

Monday’s earthquake was so deadly because it hit a densely populated area at a shallow depth of only 10 km. Poor building standards led to many deaths, officials said. During his visit to the disaster area on Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for earthquake-resistant homes to be included in the reconstruction.

Rescue workers continue to hope that more survivors will be pulled from the rubble, but they are “running against time,” said Deni Kurniawan, a rescue team leader with Jakarta-based NGO Human Initiative.

“We hope we will [have] more miracles,” he said. “Yesterday we were told that there was a pregnant woman in her house. Our team found her, but we lost both of them, her and the baby. It really is a harrowing situation.

“The earthquake happened during the day when mothers and children were at home and the fathers were working in the rice fields. Most of the victims are mothers and children.”

While the magnitude is normally expected to cause minor damage to buildings and other structures, experts say the proximity of fault lines, the quake’s shallowness and inadequate infrastructure that cannot withstand earthquakes all contributed to the damage.

Rescue workers struggled to reach the damaged parts of the mountainous region, some of which were inaccessible by car, said Karlo Purba, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Indonesia program director.

“The government warns of heavy rains. There may be landslides and flash floods in some areas,” he said.

About 22,000 families whose homes were badly damaged needed emergency tents, he added. “We are looking for 300 families to support initially so that they can build good tents,” he said.

ADRA would roll out information about saving, not destroying, damaged homes, he said. “Once people destroy their damaged house, they will have to rely 100% on the government to rebuild it, but it will take time, maybe a year, to get funding.

“But the problem is poor construction. Earthquakes don’t kill, poor buildings kill.”

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