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Indonesia quake death toll at 46, likely to rise

Indonesia, September 3, 2009

Indonesian villagers searched frantically on Thursday for people buried under collapsed buildings, after a powerful quake killed at least 46 and damaged thousands of homes in the hills of West Java.

Wednesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake sent terrified residents rushing out onto the streets of the capital, Jakarta, and in towns and villages closer to the epicentre in West Java.

Government agencies said the death toll was likely to rise, as some affected coastal areas remained out of contact.

Indonesia's main power, oil and gas, steel, and mining companies with operations in West and Central Java island closest to the quake's epicentre said they had suffered no damage.

In Pangalengan, about 130 km (80 miles) southeast of Jakarta, Titin buried her two-year-old son, who was killed when he was hit on the head by falling rubble.

'He was just playing outside, he was just a boy,' she sobbed, supported by friends who said her other son was in a coma in hospital.

With so many houses damaged or flattened, people in the area are camping outside, still traumatised and scared of aftershocks. Reuters reporters saw many damaged houses as well as tents and makeshift shelters on streets and in fields.

In Cikangkareng village, South Cianjur district, about 60 miles (100 km) south of Jakarta, the quake triggered a landslide, sending rocks cascading onto much of the village, including a mosque, a Reuters witness said.

'Many of our young were buried by the landslide. We need food, we don't have food,' said villager Rohim.

'I'm here because I'm afraid of possible aftershocks,' said Kakom, a 65-year-old woman at an evacuation site.

At least 46 people were killed in West Java, and more than 18,000 houses as well as offices, mosques and other buildings were damaged, said Priyadi Kardono, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Forty-two people were listed as missing in landslides. Kardono said the toll could 'change significantly' given the scale of damage.    

Neighbours offer help

Asian states offered help.

'We've said to the Indonesian authorities we will work with them in terms of any assistance that we can provide,' Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told national radio.

Yukio Hatoyama, Japan's next prime minister after his Democratic Party of Japan's landslide election victory, said his government would provide help 'regardless of any request'.

'We need to make sure there are no delays in providing aid that we would normally be able to provide because of a policy vacuum,' he said.

Indonesia's 17,000 islands are scattered along a belt of volcanic and seismic activity known as the Pacific 'ring of fire', one of the most quake-prone places on earth.

More than 170,000 Indonesians were killed or listed as missing after a 9.15 magnitude earthquake off Indonesia's Aceh province on Sumatra island triggered a tsunami in December 2004. A total of 230,000 people died in Indian Ocean countries.

Indonesia's seismology agency put the magnitude of Wednesday's quake at 7.3 with the epicentre 142 km (88 miles) southwest of Tasikmalaya, in West Java.

'Many houses are flattened to the ground,' said Edi Sapuan in Margamukti village, near Tasikmalaya. 'Only the wooden houses remain standing. Many villagers are injured, covered in blood.'

'We ran as soon as the quake hit. Then five minutes later my house collapsed.'

The quake was felt as far away as Surabaya, Indonesia's second city, 500 km (300 miles) northeast of Tasikmalaya, and on the resort island of Bali, about 700 km (420 miles) to the east.

At least 150 people were in hospital being treated for injuries, including several in Jakarta, the disaster ma


Tags: Quake | Indonesia | death | Java | Pangalengan |

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