“We are maximizing operations at various points where it is suspected that there are still casualties. Our team is also trying to reach remote areas,” he said.
With hospitals already overwhelmed, patients lay on gurneys and cots in tents set up outside, IV drops in their arms as they waited for further treatment.
Many of the dead were public school students who had finished their classes for the day and were taking additional lessons in Islamic schools when the buildings collapsed, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said.
Initial rescue attempts were hampered by damaged roads and bridges and power outages, and a lack of heavy equipment to help move the heavy concrete rubble. By Tuesday, power supplies and telephone communications had begun to improve.
The operations focused on around a dozen locations in Cianjur where people are still believed to be trapped, said Endra Atmawidjaja, spokesman for public works and housing.
Truckloads carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from Jakarta arrived early Tuesday at the temporary shelters. Still, thousands spent the night in the open for fear of aftershocks.
“The buildings were completely leveled,” said Dwi Sarmadi, who works for an Islamic educational foundation in a neighboring district.
President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur on Tuesday to reassure people about the government’s response to reach those in need.
He pledged to rebuild infrastructure, including the main bridge connecting Cianjur with other cities, and to provide government assistance of up to 50 million rupees ($A4,800) to each resident whose house was damaged.
Approximately 175,000 people live in Cianjur, part of a mountainous district of the same name with more than 2.5 million inhabitants. Known for their piety, the people of Cianjur live mainly in villages of one- and two-story buildings and smaller houses in the surrounding countryside.
Kamil said more than 13,000 people whose homes were badly damaged were taken to evacuation centers. Outside the Cianjur Regional Hospital, hundreds waited for treatment.
“I was working inside my office building. The building was not damaged, but since the earthquake shook very hard, many things fell. My leg was hit by something heavy,” Sarmadi said.
He was waiting near a tent outside the hospital after some overwhelmed clinics couldn’t see him. Many people came in worse shape. “I really hope they can handle me soon,” he said.
Hasan, a construction worker, was also taken to the hospital.
“I passed out. It was very strong,” Hasan recalled. “I saw my friends running to escape the building. But it was too late to get out and I hit the wall.”
The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers. The country of more than 270 million people is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific basin known as the “Ring of Fire.”
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