Burying the dead of the Aceh earthquake
PIDIE JAYA, Indonesia — An ambulance rushed through the entrance of the Kuta Pangwa madrasah in Trienggadeng subdistrict, Pidie Jaya, Aceh, on Wednesday afternoon, December 7.
The sirens flashed, asking the crowds of residents in the madrasah field to give way. The ambulance was carrying one more casualty from the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that shook the Pidie Jaya regency in Aceh province Wednesday morning.
In the yard of the madrasah, the ambulance stopped. A few paramedics rushed to bring out a lifeless body into the tent and lay it there, on top of a spread out prayer rug and mat.
The body was the 15th casualty to come to the Kuta Pungwa town madrasah. It was laid next to the other 14 bodies. They were covered with cloth.
Several residents crowded the tent. Mothers and children were crying. A woman was sitting next to her husband’s body while reciting a prayer.
The woman was unable to hold back her tears when she saw her husband’s lifeless body being bathed with those of the other 14 victims. No words came from her mouth except the soft murmurs of memorized holy verses.
A resident explained that when the earthquake happened, the woman was inside her house with her husband. She survived only because she was trapped between two walls, while her husband was buried underneath the rubble.
“These 15 victims come from 9 different families. They were all buried underneath the ruins of their houses,” said Kuta Pangwa town secretary, Zulkifli, to Rappler on Wednesday evening.
Zulkifli and his family were also victims of the quake. When it happened, Zulkifli said, he was lying on his bed waiting for the call to morning prayer. When he was about to do his pre-prayer ablutions, there was suddenly a strong jolt.
His body jerked back and the walls of his house collapsed. One of the blocks of rubble fell on his legs. “At that time I tried very hard to lift that block and the other rubble. Alhamdulillah, in 10 minutes I was able to stand, even run,” said Zulkifli.
He was thankful that none of his family members died in this tragic incident. “Because we were not directly hit by the rubble,” he said.
Rappler’s conversation with Zulkifli was cut off when someone called for him, telling him about the mass grave that was being prepared. Zulkifli hurried to the burial site which was being prepared for the 15 quake victims that had just been bathed.—Rappler.com