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Indonesia tallies death toll after West Java earthquake


MEDAN, Indonesia — Aid workers and officials are scrambling to respond to a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Indonesia’s West Java province on Monday. As rescuers scoured the rubble for survivors, confusion spread over the exact death toll, with several government sources publishing different figures.

Representatives of the Cianjur branch of Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said late Monday that the death toll had reached 162 – a number also shared by the region’s governor, Ridwan Kamil, with local journalists. But on Tuesday morning, agency staff told the Washington Post they were still verifying the 162 figure.

Abdul Muhari, the agency’s national head, said in an interview on Tuesday that the official death toll stood at 103. While others – including Kamil – said the majority of victims were children, he is still too early to tell, Muhari said. More than 30 people in Cianjur were still missing on Tuesday and it will take days for officials to identify and verify who was lost in the quake, especially in more rural segments of the affected area, he said.

“We are waiting for the hospitals in Cianjur to send us the data they have on the sex and age of the victims,” Muhari said.

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Located about 60 miles from the capital, Jakarta, the Cianjur region is home to about 2.2 million people. Monday’s earthquake, which reduced rows of buildings to rubble and briefly knocked out power to entire communities, could be Indonesia’s deadliest since 2018, when two disasters – a 7.5 magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami – killed more than 2,000 people in the central island of Sulawesi.

Most of those killed in Monday’s incident died after being hit by collapsing debris, officials said. At least 13 schools were affected and more than 7,000 people were displaced from their homes, according to Muhari’s agency. Officials now need emergency supplies like tarpaulins, tents, medicine and drinking water, he said.

Tan brought from Singapore.


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