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Indonesia Quake Death Toll Rises, Scores Still Missing

September 3, 2009

Indonesia Quake Death Toll Rises, Scores Still Missing

BANGKOK (RPRN) 09/03/09 — By Daniel Schearf

The death toll from an earthquake in Indonesia has reached 46 with scores injured and missing. Casualty figures could increase.

Indonesian rescue workers searched by hand through rubble Thursday looking for trapped survivors from Wednesday's earthquake.

Authorities say heavy digging equipment is headed to the worst-hit areas of western Java, but time is running out for scores buried under collapsed buildings and landslides.

VOA's Jakarta correspondent, Brian Padden, is in the village of Civinong in Java's Cianjur district, the area most damaged by the quake.

"The scene here at the bottom of the hill where hundreds of houses have been destroyed by a landslide caused by the earthquake, the scene is one of rescue, it's just pure rescue effort that seems devoid of emotion," Padden said. "I found no family members weeping or crying but people looking, probably hoping, looking for those that are lost."

The earthquake had a magnitude of seven and was felt hundreds of miles away and in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Indonesian foreign affairs spokesman Teuku Faizasyah says the quake flattened an estimated 13,000 buildings, including about 5,000 homes. Thousands more were damaged.

He says casualty figures may increase as rescue workers have not yet reached some remote areas.

"In this period we are concentrating on the rescue and providing basic necessities for the victims," Faizasyah said. "We haven't yet received any comprehensive report from the field. But, it looks [like] things [are] still moving on. So, we are not anticipating crisis in the near future. But, it looks we've still managed to handle the situation quite well."

Indonesian authorities issued a tsunami warning shortly after the quake but it was later canceled.

Indonesia is on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire where several tectonic plates meet and often cause earthquakes.

An earthquake off Java in 2006 triggered a tsunami that killed about 600 people on the island's southern coast. And a quake and tsunami off Aceh in 2004 led to more than 200,000 deaths around the Indian Ocean.

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