A powerful quake on the holiday island of Lombok killed more than 90 people and left hundreds more injured. Thousands have been evacuated to outdoor shelters.
A shallow earthquake measuring 7.0 struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday, killing at least 98 people and injuring hundreds, authorities said Monday. It was the second quake to hit the island in a week.
The death toll will “definitely increase,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said at a news conference.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from buildings and 20,000 are staying in temporary outdoor shelters.
Authorities said the search for more victims had been hampered by power and communication blackouts, and the injured had to be treated outside due to hospitals being damaged.
Hundreds of tourists were ordered to evacuate from Lombok’s neughboring Gili Islands. Swathes of people could be seen crammed onto a beach on the Gili Islands as they waited to be taken to safety by boat.
“We cannot evacuate all of them all at once because we don’t have enough capacity on the boats,” Muhammad Faozal, the head of West Nusa Tenggara’s tourism agency, told French news agency AFP, adding two navy vessels were on their way.
Canadian holidaymaker and blogger Jen Montgomery-Lay told DW the walls of her accommodation cracked and she heard glass shatter when the quake hit.
“Everything was just moving all around. It was very intense,” Montgomery-Lay said, adding that she and her family had not been able to leave Lombok.
“As soon as the quake hit, everybody was trying to book planes or fast boats. All of the flights booked up within minutes and we can’t seem to get on any flight until maybe Wednesday. The fast boats are not running,” she told DW.
The earthquake destroyed a two-story mosque where locals had been praying, but rescuers were not able to retrieve the victims.
“Most likely there are casualties but the victims had not been retrieved because there is no heavy equipment,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
“There are challenges: the roads were damaged, three bridges were also damaged, some locations are difficult to reach and we don’t have enough personnel,” he added.
The quake damaged buildings as far away as Denpasar on the neighboring island of Bali.
Danger in paradise
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake struck 10 kilometers (6 miles) underground. At least 14 aftershocks had been recorded since the initial rumble.
The quake comes a week after a 6.4 quake killed 17 people on the island, which is just east of Bali, parts of which also felt the earth shake, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokeman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman.
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Bali and Lombok are mountainous vacation islands known for their pristine beaches. Due to the perpetual threat of earthquakes, buildings on the two islands can not be constructed higher than the height of coconut trees, which is set as 15 meters (49 feet).
bik,law/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)