News Feature

Trapped 60 hours without food, water, 6-year-old's rescue sparks hope

Trapped 60 hours without food, water, 6-year-old's rescue sparks hope

Azka, aged six, was pulled out from the wreckage of his home after three days and two nights following the 5.6-M earthquake in Cianjur, West Java. His village, Rawacina in Nagrak, Cugenang sub-district, Cianjur, was the worst-affected area in the earthquake. (ANTARA/Bagus Ahmad Rizaldi)

Bandung, West Java (ANTARA) - For three days and two nights, a 6-year-old boy, Azka Maulana Malik, remained trapped in the ruins of his home following the 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Cianjur, West Java, on Monday afternoon (November 21, 2022).

Without food and water, Azka waited for 60 hours in a long silence till he was finally rescued. It was a miracle that the collapsed wall of his home did not fall on him, which was what happened to his mother, who was found dead.

His grandmother, who lived in the same house, had not been found as of Wednesday afternoon (November 23).

"This (child) is pitiful," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, said when visiting Azka at Cianjur Regional Hospital, West Java.

Azka was one of the 151 people declared missing by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB). He was found at 11:15 a.m. local time on Wednesday at the site of his collapsed home.

He is a resident of Rawacina village, Nagrak, Cugenang sub-district, Cianjur, which was the worst-affected area in the earthquake.

Following the disaster, Azka's fate was not known for three days and two nights. The collapsed walls of his home created a small space for him to shelter in while waiting for help.

Azka survived and was sent to Tent C, Cianjur Hospital, where patients were being treated outside the building to anticipate the earthquake’s impact.

Related news: Ministry sends fish, staple goods for Cianjur quake victims
Related news: Cianjur quake: Death toll climbs to 271


Azka’s rescue

Around 7 a.m. in the morning on Wednesday, the Search and Rescue (SAR) team began to conduct a focused search at four points in Cugenang sub-district, where it was suspected that many victims were still stuck or buried under buildings or landslide material.

The SAR team comprised personnel from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police (Polri), firefighters, and volunteers. The team also searched for survivors in Rawacina village.

The SAR team coordinated with some residents to find the points where victims could be located.​​​​​​​

Azka's uncle, Wahyudin, 29, showed the SAR team where Azka was seen before the earthquake occurred. According to Wahyudin, Azka was in his room when the building collapsed.

"At those hours (when the earthquake struck), Azka usually fell asleep in his room alone," he said.

Finally, when the SAR personnel tried to break into the walls of the collapsed room, they found plywood, and also, signs of life.​​​​​​​

Azka, who had been trapped under debris for 60 hours by then, saw light and the hands of the SAR officers who were trying to grab him. He was successfully removed from the rubble and handed over to his uncle.

His rescue brought up relief and much emotion, and his discovery sparked hope for other residents whose family members were still missing.​​​​​​​

Azka was rushed to Cianjur Hospital in an ambulance for medical treatment. He was accompanied by his uncle and aunt.

Shortly after Azka was taken to the hospital, some officials visited him.

Chief of the BNPB Suharyanto arrived at the hospital at 11 a.m. local time, followed by Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander General Andika Perkasa at 12 p.m., and 30 minutes later, Minister Mahfud MD came to meet him.

The officials were urged by the President Director of Cianjur Hospital, Darmawan Setiabudhi, to visit the tents set up outside the hospital and take stock of the patients' conditions.

Then, the officials were taken to Tent C to meet Azka to listen to the story of how he survived the disaster.

Azka’s uncle, Wahyudin, provided a chronology of his rescue to the officials. Chairperson of the Indonesian Military Wives Organization (Dharma Pertiwi), Hetty Andika Perkasa, could not hold back tears after listening to Azka's story.

Hetty tried to speak to Azka, but the boy, who was still weak, did not talk much. She also encouraged Azka to eat biscuits to increase his food intake.​​​​​​​

Azka complained of pain in his hand because of an IV (intravenous line) needle, but he was willing to get up to eat biscuits.

Search still on

The reports of Azka's survival were accompanied by sad tidings. His mother had been found dead on Tuesday (November 22).

Meanwhile, Azka's father was on his way from Bandung to Cianjur after learning that Azka had survived.

The SAR team was still searching for Azka's grandmother. Wahyudin suspected that she was still trapped in the house as there were three people living in the house when the quake occurred, namely Azka, his mother, and his grandmother.

An officer from the joint SAR team, first inspector Eddy, said that 51 SAR personnel and 10 preventive officers conducted the search for victims in Rawacina village.

"It is reported that one female victim is still buried, and is in the process of being searched using a tool from the fire station," Eddy informed.

As for the officers, the discovery of Azka provided them encouragement to find other victims who were still missing.

On Thursday, the joint SAR team continued the search for 40 missing victims by involving hundreds of personnel, life detector equipment, and bloodhounds.

Related news: Some 40 still untraceable following Cianjur earthquake
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