Indonesian girl, 7, found dead after day-long quake rescue effort

The search effort for Cika focused on her grandmother's house, where her family believed she was playing

A seven-year-old Indonesian girl who was the subject of a day-long rescue effort after an earthquake killed 272 people in West Java has been found dead, rescuers told AFP on Friday.

Emergency workers found the body of Ashika Nur Fauziah, also known as Cika, under rubble in the worst-hit district of Cianjur town, epicentre of the quake that triggered landslides, collapsed roofs, walls and buried victims in mounds of earth Monday.

“The body was immediately handed over to the family. The family accepted and she was then buried,” 28-year-old rescuer Jeksen Kolibu told AFP.

“The family was very hysterical. They were very sad. The mother was the one who received the body.”

Dozens of rescuers had spent most of Thursday using digging tools, hammers and their bare hands to clear debris in the delicate mission, which was suspended overnight until Friday morning.

Cika was found under three layers of concrete, said Kolibu.

The focus of the search had centred on her grandmother’s house, across the road from the family home, where her mother believed she had been playing when the earthquake struck.

“She was playing outside, I was cooking in the kitchen, suddenly the earthquake happened, so fast, only two seconds, my house collapsed,” her mother Imas Masfahitah, 34, told AFP at the scene on Thursday.

“Whatever happens, I will try to accept it,” she added, crying as she held on to her daughter’s sandals.

Hopes of a happy outcome had been raised following the dramatic rescue of a six-year-old boy, Azka, on Wednesday evening, which was described as a “miracle” after he survived more than two days in the rubble without food or water.

“The mother was very hopeful. Azka survived, while Cika didn’t. That’s what makes me sad,” Kolibu said.

Before Cika was found, authorities said 39 people were still missing as the rescue effort continued to be hindered by hammering rain and potentially deadly aftershocks.

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