Published January 14, 2015
Children were crowded around a video game console, passing the time before they could break the Muslim holy month's daily fast, when an earthquake touched off a landslide that smothered their Indonesian village.
Rescuers were searching Thursday for those 13 children and several dozen more people buried alive, as officials warned the death toll of 57 is sure to rise.
Thousands of others were spending the night in tents after Wednesday's 7.0-magnitude quake flattened or seriously damaged more than 10,000 homes, offices, schools and mosques on the western side of the densely populated island of Java. Aid workers distributed provision kits, blankets and medicine, but said they were concerned remote areas had not received help following the temblor, which was felt for hundreds of miles (kilometers).
At least 125 people were hospitalized with serious injuries and more than 5,300 others were in need of shelter, said Health Ministry Crisis Center chief Rustam Pakaya.
Dede Kurniati's 9-year-old son was with a group of boys gathered at a friend's house in Cikangkareng village, in the district of Cianjur, West Java, to play video games on a rented console.
"I was cooking when the powerful shaking forced me out of the house," she said weeping as police, soldiers and villagers nearby dug though tons of rocks and dirt that swept away 10 homes and a mosque. "I have lost my son ... now I just want to see his body. I want to bury my lovely son."
Neighbors described a deafening roar as giant boulders tumbled down the mountainside.
"It was terrifying. I was yelling at villagers (to flee), but my voice was drowned out by the sound of the sliding rocks," said resident Rohmat Afandi. "I just heard people screaming and crying for help."
Of 37 people still missing after the quake, most are in Cikangkareng and 13 of them are children, said rescue worker Agus Sobari. "Their parents are still waiting at the scene, hoping we will find the bodies," he said.
The Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies set up hundreds of tents and provided medical assistance to some of the injured in other affected areas.
Some rural regions, particularly along West Java's southern coast, could not be reached by telephone and there may be more victims and damage, said Trihadi Saptoadi, who heads the Indonesian branch of the Christian charity World Vision.
He was in the district of Pangalengan, one of the province's worst hit areas, where he said five died, 50 were injured and 6,700 houses were destroyed in 13 villages.
"There is a soccer field full of tents for about 500-700 people," he said. Electricity was still cut off and there was a shortage of water and food. "The need is really quite huge. ... It is also a difficult timing for Muslim people because it is Ramadan," the annual Islamic holy month, when friends and relatives normally gather to share festive meals at sunset after fasting all day.
Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by falling debris or collapsed structures in villages and towns across West Java where the quake struck Wednesday afternoon. It was felt hundreds of miles (kilometers) away on the neighboring resort island of Bali. In the capital, Jakarta, 125 miles (190 kilometers) north of the underwater epicenter, thousands of panicked office workers flooded out of swaying skyscrapers onto the streets, some of them screaming.
Hospitals in towns and cities across West Java quickly filled with scores of injured people, most with broken bones and cuts.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago, straddles continental plates and is prone to seismic activity along what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. A huge quake off western Indonesia caused a powerful tsunami in December 2004 that killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries, half of them in Aceh province.