Rescue workers arrive to clear earthquake devastation in Indonesia
Tremors hit Bali on Monday, where two are confirmed dead, as Indonesia’s Lombok island death toll nears 100
Pemenang — Scenes of destruction greeted rescue workers across Indonesia’s resort island of Lombok on Monday, after an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 killed at least 98 people and prompted an exodus of tourists rattled by the second powerful quake in a week.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said it expected the death toll to rise once the rubble of more than 13,000 flattened and damaged houses was cleared away.
Power and communications were severed in some areas, with landslides and a collapsed bridge blocking access to areas around the epicentre in the north. The military said it would send a ship with medical aid, supplies and logistics support.
Lombok was hit on July 29 by a 6.4 magnitude quake that killed 17 people and briefly stranded hundreds of trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.
Indonesia’s resort islands of Bali and Lombok were hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake prompting a tsunami warning on Sunday.
The Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics said more than 120 aftershocks were recorded after Sunday evening’s quake, whose magnitude the US Geological Survey (USGS) revised down to 6.9 from an initial 7.0. At that magnitude it released more than five times the energy of the quake a week earlier, the USGS website showed.
The dead included no foreigners and there were 236 people injured, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
The tremor was felt on the neighbouring island of Bali where two people died.
Indonesia sits on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2004, a tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.
Nugroho said more than 20,000 people had been displaced. Among them were residents of a northern village called Mentigi, who fled to nearby hills. They prepared to sleep outdoors because of aftershocks or because their homes were destroyed.
"We are getting some aid from volunteers, but we don’t have proper tents yet," said a villager sheltering with his wife and children, who gave his name only as Marhun.
Ambulances raced along the coast from north Lombok, but Nugroho said emergency units in hospitals were overflowing and some patients were being treated in parking lots. The main hospital in the town of Tanjung was damaged, so staff set up beds under trees and in a tent on a field to tend to the injured.
Long queues formed at the airport of Lombok’s main town, Mataram, as foreign visitors cut their holidays short. BNPB said 18 extra flights had been added for leaving tourists.
Officials said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated from the three Gili islands off the coast of Lombok, where fears of a tsunami spread among tourists.