Survivors of the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that devastated Tasikmalaya, West Java, and many other parts of the island of Java on Sept. 2, started clearing up the débris from their damaged homes on Thursday.
Male residents from the village of Cigalontang, the Jayapura and Cigalontang districts, were seen collecting items from the ruins while children and women in the community were sitting among the rubble.
Following the earthquake, residents were forced to eat their sahur (early breakfast before the start of fasting) meals in makeshift tents erected by the local police for earthquake refugees.
Most residents said they preferred to stay in the tents because they were either too afraid to go back to their houses — in case there were more earthquakes — or because their houses were too damaged.
“Over half of the people’s houses in the Jayapura subdistrict are damaged,” Cigalontang village head Au Kurniawan, 56, said.
Siti Hanifah, 47, a Cigalontang resident, said she had never experienced an earthquake of that
“The last time I felt a big earthquake was when Mt. Galunggung erupted in 1982,” she said.
Siti added she had didn’t know yet how and when she would rebuild her damaged house.
She expressed hope the government would lend her a hand to rebuild her house, so her life could go back to normal.
On Wednesday night, most of the villagers, especially women and children, slept in the tents, while men guarded their respective damaged houses.
According to Au, there are at least 680 families living in some 550 houses in the Jayapura subdistrict, which consists of four villages.
Data from the West Java provincial administration shows the 7.3-magnitude earthquake, whose epicenter was located 142 kilometers southwest of Tasikmalaya, West Java, and which originated 30 kilometers below the seabed, killed at least 43 people, injured hundreds of others and damaged hundreds of houses.
The provincial administration reported nine deaths in Tasikmalaya, nine in Garut, seven in Bandung, two in Sukabumi, 10 in Cianjur, two in Bogor, and four in Ciamis.
Social Affairs Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah said the government would prioritize looking after victims over providing them with aid to rebuild their damaged houses.
“We’ll focus on the people’s health and logistical supplies first,” he said during his visit to a number of hard-hit regions in Tasikmalaya.
West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan said his administration had allocated Rp 30 billion from its budget to provide emergency services for the victims of the earthquake.