Landslides, debris hinder Lombok quake rescue efforts
Indonesian rescue workers were still struggling Tuesday to reach the northern part of Lombok island, which was struck by a major earthquake Sunday.
The death toll from the disaster that also shook neighboring Bali has risen to 105, according to state-owned Antara News Agency. There have been as many as 230 aftershocks following the quake that measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. It came exactly a week after another earthquake that killed 15 people.
The National Disaster Management Agency said on its website that at least 18 villages had been cut off and were in need of aid.
“We are concerned aid trucks can’t get through because of the debris, and there are also landslides happening,” Husni Husni, a Jarkarta-based spokesperson for the Red Cross, told CNN.
“The army has been trying to clear up to make a corridor for trucks to pass through.”
Around 200,000 people live in northern Lombok, a mountainous region, according to the 2010 census. The government estimates 20,000 people are in need of assistance, with around 80% of buildings destroyed.
“A lot of people are displaced and many have migrated to the hilly and mountainous areas because of fear of a tsunami,” said Husni.
“What we need urgently is food and clean water. And we hope the government will pay attention to the fact we really need help,” a resident of Gumantar, a village near the coast, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the disaster management agency said Tuesday all of the 2,000 tourists on the Gili islands had now been evacuated.
Most of those known to be killed were struck by falling debris from collapsed buildings, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster management department. Among the many buildings destroyed on Lombok were two homes that housed around 80 underprivileged children.
“Everything started moving; the noise was deafening. We ran out into the street and a friend and I stood in the parking area hanging on to a parked car which was also swaying severely,” said retiree Deborah Storck, who was about to eat dinner at a restaurant on Lombok’s west coast when the quake hit.
The Singaporean Interior Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam was in Mataram, Lombok when the earthquake struck. He described his experience in a Facebook post.
“Our delegation is in Mataram, Lombok for a security conference. I was in my room, 10th floor, working on my laptop. Suddenly the room shook violently, walls cracked, it was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams. Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking.”
He later wrote: “After waiting by the roadside, we went to another hotel, low rise, 3 storeys. As we got to the hotel people were running out. So eventually we went to the airport, and waited in the airport police post. The police officers there were kind. The airport was chaotic – lots of people. Last night we only grabbed the most essential items before getting out – in my case my laptop with my government emails.”
Evan Burns, an Australian who manages a resort on Lombok, told CNN that the quake “was so severe it threw us out of bed, and the walls immediately started cracking.”
Burns, his wife and their 2-year-old son immediately made a two-mile dash up a mountain where they then waited in the dark with about 200 other people from their village for the danger to pass. He has since returned home.
Canadian Jen Montgomery-Lay was on holiday in the Gili islands with her husband and two children when the quake struck. They are now safely in Bali. “We are a family of 4 our child has cancer. Bucket list trip from hell,” she said on Twitter.
In 2004, a tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed more than 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.