Indonesian earthquake survivor mourns 11 relatives during rebuilding

CIANJUR, Indonesia — Enjot was grazing his cows in the hills near his home when the ground shook.

More than 268 people died in the 5.6-magnitude earthquake, including 11 of Enjot’s family members. Her sister-in-law and two children were injured, among the hundreds injured in Monday’s earthquake.

Now Enjot is visiting hospitalized loved ones and trying to rebuild his shattered life, one of thousands of Indonesians affected by the disaster.

“My life suddenly changed,” said Enjot, 45, who is referred to as many Indonesians. “I have to live with him from now on.”

The earthquake’s epicenter was south of Enjot’s hometown of Cianjur, about a three-hour drive from the capital, Jakarta. After calling his daughter, Enjot hopped on his motorcycle and sped home, arriving within minutes to find his neighborhood flattened.

“Men, women and children were crying as people trapped in collapsed houses shouted for help,” he recalled. “I saw terrible destruction and heartbreaking scenes.”

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His sister-in-law and her children, who were visiting from a nearby village, were among the more fortunate. Others heard their screams from the debris and pulled them out.

The woman and the children suffered serious head injuries and broken bones and are being treated in a hospital, overwhelmed by the number of victims.

According to the National Disaster Management Agency, more than 268 people have been killed and hundreds more are missing and injured as of Tuesday evening, almost all in and around Cianjur. The toll is expected to increase.

Like many other villagers, Enjot desperately dug through the rubble in search of survivors and managed to save several. However, blocked roads and damaged bridges meant that the authorities were unable to bring in the heavy machinery needed to remove the larger concrete slabs and other debris.

During the day, the relatives watched in wailing as the rescuers pulled bodies stuffed with mud from the destroyed buildings, including one of Enjot’s nephews.

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Not far from Enjot’s home, an aftershock triggered a landslide that hit a relative’s house and buried seven people. Four were rescued, but two nephews and a cousin died, he said.

In a neighboring village, his sister, a cousin and six other relatives died when their home collapsed, Enjot said.

Faced with such a sudden loss of life and left homeless, Enjot wonders what comes next.

Thousands live in tents or other temporary shelters set up by volunteers, barely enough to protect them from monsoon downpours.

“The situation is worse than it appears on television,” Enjot said. “We are hungry, thirsty and cold without proper tents and clothes, while we have no access to clean water.”

“All I have left is the dress I’ve been wearing since yesterday,” he said.


Karmini reported from Jakarta.