Cikangkareng, Indonesia: Rescuers dug through rocks and debris with their bare hands on Thursday in search of dozens of villagers believed buried in a landslide triggered by a strong Indonesian earthquake that killed at least 57 people and damaged thousands of buildings.
At least 110 people were hospitalized with injuries from the 7.0 magnitude quake just off the coast of densely populated Java island, Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said, adding 10 were in critical condition.
The earthquake on Wednesday afternoon caused destruction across West Java province, where more than 18,300 homes and offices were listed as damaged, about 9,000 seriously, Kardono said. At least 5,300 people were forced into temporary shelters.
Some rural areas could not be reached by telephone and there may be more victims and damage, officials said.
Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by falling debris or collapsed structures.
The death toll continued to rise on Thursday. More bodies were found in Cianjur district, where a landslide buried a row of homes under tons of rock and mud in the village of Cikangkareng. Villagers were still searching for dozens of others believed missing.
“Everything is gone, my wife, my old father-in-law and my house ... now I just hope to find the bodies of my family,” farmer Ahmad Suhana, 34, said as he pried at giant stones with a crowbar.
Heavy digging equipment had not reached the remote village, which President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was to visit later on Thursday. Police, military personnel and villagers used their hands to remove rubble.
Maskana Sumitra, a district administrator, said 11 houses and a mosque were buried by the landslide and estimated more than 50 people were trapped and feared dead.
“The chance of survival is so slim ... but we have to find them,” Sumitra said.
When the quake struck it was felt hundreds of miles away on the neighbouring resort island of Bali. In the capital, Jakarta, 125 miles (190kms) north of the underwater epicenter of the temblor, thousands of panicked office workers flooded out of swaying skyscrapers onto the streets, some of them screaming.
A tsunami warning was issued after the quake but was lifted an hour later. Several dozen aftershocks were measured by geological agencies.
Hospitals in towns and cities across West Java quickly filled with scores of injured people, most with broken bones and cuts.
In Cikangkareng, Dede Kurniati said her 9-year-old son was playing at a friend’s house when the earthquake struck and is now “buried under the rocks.”
“I lost my son ... now I just want to see his body, I want to bury my lovely son properly,” she said, weeping.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago, straddles continental plates and is prone to seismic activity along what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. A huge quake off western Indonesia caused a powerful tsunami in December 2004 that killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries, half of them in Aceh province.