Indonesian girl, 7, found dead after day-long earthquake rescue as death toll rises to 310

Ciherang Village, Cianjur was severely affected by the Indonesia earthquake on November 22.

Eddy Purwanto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

  • An Indonesian girl, 7, was found dead after a day-long rescue in the aftermath of an earthquake.
  • The earthquake collapsed buildings, caused landslides and buried victims.
  • 24 people remain missing and 310 people have been declared dead.

A seven-year-old Indonesian girl who was the subject of a day-long rescue operation after an earthquake killed at least 310 people in West Java has been found dead, rescuers told AFP on Friday.

Rescuers found the body of Ashika Nur Fauziah, also known as Cika, under rubble in the hardest-hit district of Cugenang, the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake that triggered landslides, collapsed buildings and buried victims in mounds of earth.

“The body was immediately handed over to the family,” 28-year-old rescue worker Jeksen Kolibu told AFP. “The family… was very sad.”

Dozens of rescuers had spent most of Thursday using excavators, hammers and their bare hands to clear debris in the delicate mission, which had been suspended overnight.

Cika was found Friday morning under three layers of concrete, Kolibu said. Workers found her face down, boxed in by rubble, with little room to breathe.

Rescue workers covered her face and placed her in a body bag as her father Ahmad watched, desperately holding his head. He didn’t say a word when she was handed over to him.

Cika was buried in a nearby cemetery less than an hour after she was found.

At the funeral, a cleric tried to calm a visibly upset Ahmad.

Cika was then wrapped in a white sheet and lowered into the ground by three men as exhausted volunteers and firefighters watched.

The head of Indonesia’s National Disaster Relief Service, Suharyanto, who goes by one name like many Indonesians, raised the quake count to 310 on Friday.

He said at least 24 people are still missing after the quake triggered landslides and building collapses in the West Java town of Cianjur.

‘makes me sad’

The search focused on the girl’s grandmother’s house, across the street from the family home, where her mother thought she was playing when the earthquake hit.

“She was playing outside, I was cooking in the kitchen, suddenly the earthquake happened, so fast, just two seconds, my house collapsed,” her mother Imas Masfahitah, 34, told AFP on the scene on Thursday.

“Whatever happens, I will try to accept it,” she added, crying while holding her daughter’s sandals.

Hopes for a happy ending were raised after the dramatic rescue of a six-year-old boy, Azka, on Wednesday night, who was described as a “miracle” after surviving in the rubble for more than two days without food or water.

Kolibu said:

The mother was hopeful. Azka survived, Cika did not. That’s what makes me sad.

Before Cika was found, authorities said heavy rainfall and potentially deadly aftershocks hampered rescue efforts.

Henri Alfiandi, head of the national search and rescue service, said 17 bodies had been recovered on Friday despite the challenges.

“The problems are the unstable soil, the thickness of the landslide stack exacerbated by continuous rain, and the aftershock concerns,” he told broadcaster Kompas TV.

He said the emergency period for the search and rescue operation would last a week until Monday and authorities would evaluate whether to extend it if not all missing persons were found.

According to officials, many of those killed in the quake were children, some in school classes.

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More than 2,000 people were injured and 56,000 homes were damaged by the quake.

More than 62,000 people were forced to evacuate to at least 110 shelters around Cianjur, Suharyanto said, leaving many homeless without adequate supplies.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

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