Lombok quake death toll rises to 436 as economic losses, damage hit $470m

Workers attempt to fix an electricity pole at an intersection near the Bangsal Jetty off North Lombok on Aug 7, 2018. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

JAKARTA (AFP) - The death toll from an earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok rose to 436 on Monday (Aug 13), the authorities said, as bodies were still being recovered from the ruins of destroyed buildings.

The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake on Aug 5 - which was revised down by the US Geological Survey from an original 7-magnitude - levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok, just a week after another tremor struck the island and killed 17.

"Search and rescue teams are still removing victims who were buried beneath collapsed buildings and landslides," said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

He said more than 1,300 people were injured and nearly 353,000 displaced.

The hardest hit region of Lombok has been in the north, where 374 people died and more than 137,000 have been forced from their homes, according to the latest official tolls.

Most of the displaced are sleeping under tents or tarpaulins near their ruined homes or in evacuation shelters, while makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

Damaged roads, particularly in the mountainous north of the island, are still proving to be a major headache for relief agencies trying to distribute aid.

Mr Sutopo said three helicopters, including one from the military, have been used to drop supplies to isolated communities, many of which urgently needed clean water, food, bedding and medicine.

The economic toll of the quake - including its impact to buildings, infrastructure and productivity - has ballooned to five trillion rupiah (S$471 million), compared with an estimated two trillion rupiah last Friday.

"This damage and loss is very large," said Mr Sutopo, adding that the final figure was likely to be higher.

Survivors of the quake have been shaken by hundreds of aftershocks, including a shallow 5.9-magnitude quake last Thursday which caused people to flee evacuation shelters screaming and crying.

The authorities previously said that around 13,000 people sustained injuries and 387,000 were evacuated.

Mr Sutopo said the drop in the number of displaced people was due to many now spending time at their homes and gardens during the day and returning to shelters at the night. Others had chosen to return to their homes for good.

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