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Many children among Indonesia quake victims as school collapsed

Children killed when their schools collapsed accounted for many of the 252 dead in an earthquake that devastated a town on Indonesia’s main island of Java, an official reported on Tuesday as rescuers raced to reach people trapped in rubble.

Hundreds of people were injured in the Monday quake and officials warned the death toll was likely to rise.

The shallow 5.6-magnitude quake struck in mountains in Indonesia’s most populous province of West Java, causing significant damage to the town of Cianjur and burying at least one village under a landslide.

Landslides and rough terrain were hampering rescue efforts, said Henri Alfiandi, head of National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas).

“The challenge is that the affected area is spread out… On top of that, the roads in these villages are damaged,” he told a news conference, adding that more than 13,000 people had been evacuated.

Most of the casualties are children, because at 1 p.m. they were still at school,” he said, referring to the time the quake hit.

Devastated to see that yesterday's 5.6 quake in Indonesia damaged schools as pupils were inside, explaining why some victims were children. Scores were hurt at this one school alone as ceilings, partitions and a few sections of its walls collapsed.

— Nivell Rayda (@NivellCNA) November 22, 2022
President Joko Widodo flew to Cianjur on Tuesday to encourage rescuers. “My instruction is to prioritise evacuating victims that are still trapped under rubble,” he said.

As he stressed, reconstruction should include earthquake-prone housing to protect against future disasters.

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