Death toll in Lombok quake hits 131, more than 156,000 displaced

Death toll in Lombok quake hits 131, more than 156,000 displaced

Lombok earthquake 2
Residents rest in a temporary shelter in Gunung Sari, west Lombok on Aug 8, three days after an earthquake struck the area. (Photo: Adek Berry/AFP)

MATARAM, Indonesia: The death toll from a shallow 6.9-magnitude earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok has risen above 130, officials said Wednesday (Aug 8), with about 156,000 forced from their homes.

The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake killed at least 131 people and triggered panic among locals and tourists on Lombok on Sunday, just a week after another tremor surged through the holiday island, which has a population of about 3.1 million, and killed 17.

Around 1,477 people have been severely injured in the latest quake, with tens of thousands of homes damaged, and authorities have appealed for more medical personnel and basic supplies.

"The efforts to evacuate people have been intensified but there are still a lot of problems on the ground," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Wednesday.

Lombok earthquake 3
A man salvages valuable items from the rubble of damaged houses in Menggala, north Lombok. (Photo: Addek Berry/AFP)

"The number of victims keep rising. More than 70,000 people have been evacuated and tens of thousands of houses have collapsed."

There are fears the death toll will rise as workers with heavy machinery claw through the rubble of homes, schools and mosques, with hopes of finding any survivors fading.

Muhammad Zainul Majdi, the governor of West Nusa Tenggara province which covers Lombok, said there was a dire need for medical staff, food and medicine in the worst-hit areas.

Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims have been treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city of Mataram and other badly affected areas.

"We have limited human resources. Some paramedics have to be at the shelters, some need to be mobile," Majdi told AFP.

"The scale of this quake is massive for us here in West Nusa Tenggara, this is our first experience."

Lombok Earthquake 1
Indonesian rescuers search for victims under debris at Sigar Penjalin village in northern Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara province. (Photo: SONNY TUMBELAKA / AFP)

"DESTRUCTION ALMOST 100 PER CENT" 

Across much of the island, once-bustling villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns.

"In some villages we visited the destruction was almost 100 per cent, all houses collapsed, roads are cracked and bridges were broken," said Arifin Muhammad Hadi, a spokesman for the Indonesian Red Cross.

Makeshift encampments have popped up on the side of roads and rice fields, with many farmers reluctant to move far from their damaged homes and leave precious livestock behind.

Lombok earthquake 4
Villagers stay in tents in a temporary shelter in Gunung Sari, west Lombok after the area was struck by an earthquake. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

"It's typical of earthquake victims in Indonesia, they want to stay close to their livelihood, they can't bring their livestock to the shelters," Hadi said.

Local authorities, international relief groups and the central government have begun organising aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north and east of Lombok, which was hardest hit.

The Indonesian military said that three Hercules transporter planes packed with much-needed food, medication, blankets, tents and water tanks have now arrived in Lombok.

TOURISTS FLEE

The tremor struck as evening prayers were being said across the Muslim-majority island and there are fears that one collapsed mosque in north Lombok had been filled with worshippers.

Crews using heavy equipment resumed the search on Wednesday for survivors in the mosque, now reduced to pile of concrete and metal bars, with its towering green dome folded in on itself.

Rescuers have found three bodies and also managed to pull one man alive from the twisted wreckage.

"We estimate there are still more victims because we found many sandals in front of the mosque," Nugroho said Tuesday.

Among other major buildings to collapse were a health clinic, government offices and other public facilities, he added.

Lombok earthquake 5
A foreign tourist (middle) is given assistance as evacuated tourists arrive from nearby Gili Trawangan island at the port at Bangsal in northern Lombok. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

Meanwhile, the evacuation of tourists from the Gili Islands, three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands off the northwest coast of Lombok has finished, officials said.

"Most foreign tourists have been evacuated," Yusuf Latif, national search and rescue team spokesman, told AFP.

Lombok airport's general manager said airlines had laid on extra flights and his staff had been providing blankets and snacks.

Source: AFP/ng

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