Rescuers in Indonesia have pulled a six-year-old boy from the floodwaters of his collapsed house in Cianjur, after he survived the earthquake by being protected by a mattress.
The boy, named Azka Maulana Malik, had been locked up for two days and was found alive next to the body of his deceased grandfather.
He appeared calm as rescuers carried him to safety in a video posted online by local firefighters.
“(Azka) is fine now, not injured. The doctor said she is weak because she is hungry,” said relative Salman Alfarisi, holding Azka’s hand in a tent set up outside the hospital that was destroyed by the earthquake.
The 22-year-old boy said that the boy’s mother was killed in the earthquake that happened on Monday.
“They want to go home now.” He has been asking his mother while she is sleeping.”
The death toll from the 5.6-magnitude earthquake off the heavily populated West Java island now stands at 271, but officials expect the number to rise as some remote areas remain inaccessible and heavy rains have hampered rescue efforts. About 40 people are missing and more than 2,000 are injured.
It was Indonesia’s deadliest earthquake since 2018, when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck in shallow waters off the city of Palu in Sulawesi, triggering a tsunami, mudslides and landslides that devastated the city and killed more than 4,000 people.
Police, soldiers and other rescue workers used hammers, circular saws, agricultural tools and their bare hands to dig out piles of dirt in the worst-hit area of Cijendil village, where the landslide left behind tons of mud, rocks and trees.
Muhammad Tohir, 48, was sitting in the living room with his family in Cijendil when the tragedy happened. He managed to escape but his sister and two children did not.
Tohir said: “When I arrived at my sister’s house, I was very disappointed by what I saw.” “Many houses were buried due to the landslide. … It was like judgment day.” He said at least 45 people were buried alive under tons of mud.
Tohir and other people searched for the missing person using agricultural tools and managed to retrieve two bodies. Two days later, rescuers came to help with the search.
Tohir said that he would not give up until he pulled his sister and nephews out of the mud.
Rain and the risk of earthquakes causing mudslides have hindered search and rescue operations, said Henri Alfiandi, head of the search and rescue agency.
More than 170 earthquakes, including the magnitude 3.9 earthquake on Wednesday afternoon, have been recorded.
“Because the earthquake was very strong and it was raining, we were afraid of landslides. But we have continued to move now,” Henri told Reuters.
More than 12,000 soldiers were deployed on Wednesday to strengthen the search with police, the search and rescue agency and volunteers, said Suharyanto, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Suharyanto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said aid is reaching thousands of people left homeless who have taken refuge in makeshift shelters, where things are going on foot in difficult areas.
About 62,000 people who survived were moved to a shelter.
Many sought safety under shelters that had collapsed in the storm. Only a few were protected by tents covered with shingles.
Experts say the shallowness of the earthquake and the lack of earthquake-resistant buildings and roads are the factors that contributed to the earthquake’s destruction.
More than 2.5 million people live in the rural area of Cianjur, including about 175,000 in its main town, which bears the same name.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Cianjur the day after the earthquake and pledged to rebuild its infrastructure and offer 50 million rupiah ($3,180) in aid to each citizen whose home was damaged.
Indonesia has a history of devastating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In December 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake on the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia triggered a massive tsunami that swept through 14 countries around the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people, more than half of whom were killed in Indonesia.