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Indonesia quake death toll jumps to 602

JAKARTA (AFP) – The death toll from an earthquake that hit Indonesia’s main island Java last month jumped by hundreds to 602, a local administration official said yesterday, after authorities verified unreported casualties across the worst-hit town.

The shallow 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit the town of Cianjur in Indonesia’s most populous province West Java on November 21, with most of the victims killed as buildings collapsed or landslides were triggered.

Cianjur local administration spokesman Adam told AFP the new toll – up from a previously reported figure of 334 – was based on data collected from residents across the town.

He said many people rushed to bury their relatives after the disaster without reporting their deaths to authorities.

“If someone dies, residents in Cianjur often immediately bury them. Because of the panicked situation, those who died were immediately buried by relatives without notifying the local health agency,” he said.

The local rescue agency, known as the BPBD, posted the new death toll on social media. An official from the agency Wawan Setiawan confirmed the new toll to AFP.

State news agency Antara yesterday cited Cianjur district head Herman Suherman as giving a new death toll of 602. National disaster mitigation agency spokesman Abdul Muhari told AFP it was still sticking with a lower death toll of 335 but was working to verify the new figure.

Members of the National Search and Rescue Agency flies a helicopter to deliver relief goods to a village affected by Man earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP

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