Death toll in Java island earthquake soars to more than 260

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Nov. 22 (UPI) — The death toll from a major earthquake on Indonesia’s Java island on Monday has increased to 268 with more than 150 still missing, officials said on Tuesday.

Authorities said since the earthquake happened while many children were in school, the increased death toll included students who died while attending classes. Landslides that accompanied the shallow 5.6-magnitude earthquake contributed to the death toll.

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The main earthquake was followed by at least 118 aftershocks ranging from 1.5 to 4.2 magnitude. Mudslides and other damage from the earthquake blocked some major roads and downed power lines, which slowed rescue efforts.

Abdul Muhari, of Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure, or BNPB, said at least 13 schools were affected. He said rescue crews were in need of emergency supply items like tarpaulins, tents, medicine and drinking water.

“We are waiting for the hospitals in Cianjur to send us the data that they have about the sex and ages of the victims,” Muhari said.

Officials said landslides in the mountainous region where the earthquake took place buried entire villages near the West Java town of Cianjur.

More than 1,000 people were injured in the incident and more than 22,000 houses were damaged. Officials said more than 58,000 people had to find shelter in numerous locations in the region because they lost their homes.

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Cianjur is a densely populated area with 2.2 million residents less than 50 miles away from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Indonesia lies in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire that is marked by frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.