Strong 5.9-magnitude aftershock rattles survivors of deadly Lombok quake

Strong 5.9-magnitude aftershock rattles survivors of deadly Lombok quake
A woman walks past collapsed houses in Kayangan in northern Lombok island on August 9, 2018, following the August 5 earthquake.
PHOTO: AFP

MATARAM, Indonesia - A strong aftershock struck Indonesia's Lombok Thursday, causing panic among evacuees already traumatised by a devastating earthquake that killed more than 160 on the holiday island four days earlier.

The 5.9-magnitude quake struck at a shallow depth in the northwest of the island, the US Geological Survey said, even as relief agencies raced to find survivors among the wreckage from Sunday's quake.

It was the strongest of some 355 aftershocks that have rattled the island since Sunday, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Evacuees at a shelter in northern Lombok's Tanjung district ran out onto the road crying and screaming, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Motorcycles parked on the street toppled over and the walls of some nearby buildings collapsed.

A woman wearing a motorbike helmet was seen crying with her two daughters in her arms.

"We were stuck in the traffic while delivering aid, suddenly it felt like our car was hit from behind, it was so strong," witness Sri Laksmi told AFP.

6.9 magnitude quake in Indonesia kills 82, injures hundreds

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    A powerful quake which struck the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok has killed 82 people and wounded hundreds, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said early Monday, with thousands of buildings left damaged.

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    The 6.9 magnitude tremor, which triggered panic among tourists and locals on Sunday evening, was also felt on the neighbouring island of Bali, one of Southeast Asia's leading tourist destinations.

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    Nugroho said an initial tsunami warning which was later cancelled had sparked terror as residents scrambled to reach safer ground.

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    Most of the victims in the latest disaster died in mountainous northern Lombok, away from the main tourist spots on the south and west of the island. Thousands of people were evacuated to outside shelters.

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    The US Geological Survey said the shallow quake hit northern Lombok just 10 kilometres underground and was followed by two further secondary quakes and nearly two dozen aftershocks.

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    Electricity was knocked out in several parts of the city and patients were evacuated from the main hospital, witnesses and officials said.

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    In the neighbouring resort island of Bali people could be heard screaming as locals and tourists ran onto the streets.

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    Bali's international airport suffered damage to its terminal but the runway was unaffected and operations had returned to normal, disaster agency officials said.

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    Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims were treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city Mataram and other hard-hit parts of the island.

"People in the street began to panic and got out of their cars, they ran in different directions in the middle of the traffic." The aftershock comes just four days after a devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck Lombok, which relief agencies said had wiped out entire villages in the worst-hit regions in the north and west.

A total of 164 people were now confirmed dead in the quake, Nugroho told AFP, with a further 1,400 seriously injured and more than 150,000 displaced.

State-run news agency Antara reported overnight 347 had been killed by the quake, but Nugroho said the tally was incomplete and unverified.

However, he said Thursday the "death toll has jumped significantly", without providing further details.

EXCEPTIONALLY DESTRUCTIVE

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 of Lombok, which bore the brunt of the quake.

Aid begun trickling into some of the most isolated regions, officials said midday Thursday, but many people displaced by the quake still lack basic supplies.

In some parts of northern Lombok, survivors can be seen standing on the road with cardboard boxes asking for donations and food.

"We are still waiting for assessments from some of the more remote areas in the north of the island, but it is already clear that Sunday's earthquake was exceptionally destructive," Christopher Rassi, the head of a Red Cross assessment team on Lombok, said in a statement.

"I visited villages yesterday that were completely collapsed." Tens of thousands of homes, businesses and mosques were levelled by the quake, which struck on Sunday as evening prayers were being said across the Muslim-majority island.

There are fears that two collapsed mosques in north Lombok had been filled with worshippers.

Rescuers have found three bodies and also managed to pull one man alive from the twisted wreckage of one mosque in Lading Lading village, while at least one body has been spotted under the rubble in Pemenang.

Authorities are gathering information from family members with missing relatives to determine how many more people may have been in the buildings when they collapsed, national search and rescue agency spokesman Yusuf Latif told AFP.

WAITING FOR AID

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

Many frightened villagers are staying under tents or tarpaulins dotted along roads or in parched rice fields, and makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

Evacuees in some encampments say they are running out of food, while others are suffering psychological trauma after the powerful quake, which struck just one week after another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

There is a dire need for medical staff and "long-term aid", especially food and medicine in the worst-hit areas, government officials said.

Some evacuees have complained of being ignored or experiencing long delays for supplies to arrive at shelters.

"There has been no help at all here," said 36-year-old Multazam, staying with hundreds of others under tarpaulins on a dry paddy field outside West Pemenang village.

"We have no clean water, so if we want to go to the toilet we use a small river nearby," he said, adding they needed food, bedding and medicine.

The Indonesian Red Cross said it had set up 10 mobile clinics in the north of the island.

A field hospital has also been established near an evacuation centre catering to more than 500 people in the village of Tanjung.

Kurniawan Eko Wibowo, a doctor at the field hospital, said most patients had broken bones and head injuries.

"We lack the infrastructure to perform operations because (they) need to be performed in a sterile place," Wibowo told AFP.

Aid groups say children are particularly vulnerable, with many sleeping in open fields and suffering illnesses from lack of warm clothing and blankets.

 

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