Tue, 29 Nov 2022

Indonesia Earthquake Survivor, 5, Is Inconsolable: I Want My Mommy

Voice of America
24 Nov 2022, 16:06 GMT+10

Nagrak Village, Cianjur, Indonesia - Azka Maulana Malik, who is 5 years old, still can't talk. He keeps crying for his mother. He refused food offered by a nurse and several people who tried to comfort him. He covers his mouth and cries.

Softly he whimpers, "I want my mommy."

A search-and-rescue team found him Wednesday evening local time, trapped under the rubble of his house in Nagrak Village, Cianjur. His mother and grandmother died there after a shallow 5.6 magnitude earthquake shattered his village.

His dad, Muhammad Eka, 38, told VOA Indonesia that Azka and the boy's mother and grandmother were at home that afternoon. Eka was driving his daughter to a nearby city.

Azka Maulana Malik, age 5, was rescued after being trapped for two days under the rubble of his house in Nagrak Village, Cianjur, Indonesia, Nov. 23, 2022. Azka Maulana Malik, age 5, was rescued after being trapped for two days under the rubble of his house in Nagrak Village, Cianjur, Indonesia, Nov. 23, 2022.

Searchers discovered the bodies of the two women on Tuesday.

Azka was nowhere to be found.

'I accepted what happened to us, but I will not give up finding him," said Eka, who kept digging through the rubble of their home with the search-and-rescue team in the very heavy rain.

Several times, aftershocks and the danger of landslides stopped Eka and the rescue team.

Then, the team pulled Azka from the rubble.

Alive.

Azka "had survived just because of a mattress and a small house ceiling protected him," said Muhammad Farid, a police officer who pulled Azka from the rubble. "He curled up. He did not cry. He did not even call for help. He was quiet, almost unconscious."

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The officer added, "[He is so quiet] perhaps because after three days and two nights under the ruins of his home, he had lost hope. When we found him, his body was covered with his own feces. He was also dehydrated."

Hooked up to IV tubes, Azka is being treated at the makeshift tent in the Sayang Hospital carpark in Cianjur. His father, in mourning, hears Azka's cries.

"He keeps asking for his mom. I can't tell him now," said Eka.

Dr. Badrul Mustafa, an earthquake expert at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, told VOA Indonesia by phone that many residents of West Java probably had little knowledge of what to do during and after an earthquake.

'The earthquakes in this area are rare," he said.

Elsewhere in Indonesia, near the Sumatra fault from Aceh to Lampung, earthquakes are more frequent.

Damage caused by Monday's 5.6 magnitude quake that struck in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Nov. 23, 2022. Damage caused by Monday's 5.6 magnitude quake that struck in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Nov. 23, 2022.

The Monday tremor in Cianjur, West Java, was the result of a shift in the Cimandiri fault, one of the large faults in West Java with considerable potential for causing damage, Mustafa said.

Authorities said they would continue the search for at least 40 people who were still missing Thursday. The area was experiencing heavy rain and landslides.

In the news conference at the Cianjur Regent's Office, West Java, on Wednesday, the head of emergency agency BNPB (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan), Lieutenant General Suharyanto, said that "as of Wednesday, the death toll has reached 271 and all have been identified."

Another 2,043 people are injured and 61,098 people displaced, according to authorities.

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