Traumatized relatives await news of missing in quake-hit Indonesia



Traumatized relatives awaited news on Wednesday of the fate of loved ones missing after an earthquake shattered a town in Indonesia's West Java on Monday, with more heavy machinery deployed to clear landslides that have buried villages.

The death toll from Monday's magnitude-5.6 quake in Cianjur has continued to rise. Authorities say 268 are confirmed dead and over 150 others still missing.

The earthquake also left 1,083 people injured and forced 58,362 others to flee home as the tremors of the quake destroyed over 21,000 houses and infrastructure facilities, according to the country's National Disaster Management Agency.

Recovery efforts on Wednesday will focus on one of Cianjur's worst-hit districts, Cugenang, where it is believed at least one village was buried by a landslide.

Footage from the area shows residents digging in brown earth with their bare hands, or using hoes, sticks, crowbars and other tools.

More than 1,000 police officers have been deployed to bolster search and rescue teams.

Indonesia is one of the most earthquake-prone nations on earth and regularly records stronger offshore earthquakes. But Monday's magnitude-5.6 quake was particularly deadly as it struck in a densely populated area at shallow depth of just 10 kilometers.

Officials said poor building standards led to many deaths.

During a visit on Tuesday to Cianjur, about 75 kilometers south of the capital Jakarta, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for reconstruction efforts to include earthquake-proof housing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a message of condolences to Widodo over the earthquake. Xi extended condolences over the deaths, and expressed sincere sympathies to the bereaved families and the wounded.

There was an urgent need to ensure surgery could take place immediately as hospitals had limited capacity due to damage from the earthquake, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.

"My priority is no more deaths," he said during a visit to the disaster zone.

"The first priority is to make sure that badly injured patients are being taken care of so they can survive."

(Reuters and Xinhua)