The death toll from the earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java earlier this week has risen to 310, an official said, after rescuers found more bodies under landslides. At least 24 people are still missing.
In devastated towns in West Java, residents gathered near badly damaged mosques for Friday prayers. Others prayed with rescuers among tents in evacuation centres.
The bodies were found on Friday in two areas of the mountainous Cianjur region where landslides triggered by Monday’s earthquake brought tons of mud, boulders and broken trees, said Henri Alfiande, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.
More than 1,400 rescuers have been searching through the rubble since the 5.6-magnitude earthquake, which injured more than 2,000 people.
The head of the National Disaster Management Agency, Suharyanto, who goes by one name, said rescuers will continue searching until rebuilding begins.
“We will do it until the last person. There is absolutely no decrease in strength, enthusiasm or equipment,” Suharyanto said.
He said the distribution of food and other aid is improving and reaching more people in the 110 evacuation sites.
The disaster management agency said the quake destroyed at least 56,000 homes and displaced at least 36,000 people. Hundreds of public facilities, including 363 schools, were destroyed.
An earthquake of this magnitude would not normally cause such severe damage. But Monday’s quake was shallow and shook a densely populated area that lacked earthquake-proof infrastructure.
Indonesia is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the volcanic arc and fault lines in the Pacific basin known as the “Ring of Fire”.
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