Jakarta. More sad stories continue to unfold in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in West Java and one that will forever haunt the district of Cianjur is the death of 21 young students after a two-story school building collapsed amid intense shaking during Monday's disaster.
Around 200 first to third-graders at Madrasah Tarbiyatusibyan elementary school in the Cugenang subdistrict resumed classes for Islamic teachings at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, around 20 minutes before the 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck.
There were six classrooms at the school: three on the second floor and three on the ground floor.
“Some students have entered their classrooms, others remained outside. When the earthquake began, those inside classrooms couldn’t escape and were trapped by the rubble,” Siti Nur Halimah, a spokeswoman for the foundation that arranged the religious lessons, told BeritaSatu.com.
Teachers and other adults tried to rescue the students but still, 21 children tragically died in the debris, she recalled.
A mass burial was later arranged for the ill-fated students on a parcel of donated land near the school.
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The quake also destroyed many homes in the subdistrict.
Traumatized villagers spent the night outdoors in fear of aftershocks without bothering to rebuild their homes.
“In the meantime, their concerns are getting food and having makeshift tents to rest with their families. Hopefully, the government will immediately send relief supplies to the affected residents,” Siti said.
According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), at least 268 people died and more than 1,000 others were injured in Cianjur, the epicenter of the earthquake.
West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said on Monday children made up the majority of the death toll as they were still in classrooms during the daylight quake.