Lombok quake: Indonesian rescuers struggle to reach cut-off villages

More foreign and Indonesian tourists were evacuated from Gili Trawangan, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara by Indonesian armed forces early Tuesday (Aug 7) morning.
More foreign and Indonesian tourists were evacuated from Gili Trawangan, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara by Indonesian armed forces early Tuesday (Aug 7) morning. PHOTO: PUSPEN TNI

PEMENANG, INDONESIA (REUTERS) - Indonesian rescue workers and military personnel resumed their search for survivors and evacuated more victims on the tourist island of Lombok on Tuesday (Aug 7), two days after a major earthquake killed dozens, destroyed villages and stranded thousands.

The death toll since the 7.0-magnitude quake on Sunday (Aug 5) has reached 98, including two on the neighbouring island of Bali, and officials expect it to rise.

Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), said on Twitter that rescuers were combing through rubble in their search for survivors.

In a separate statement, BNPB said rescue efforts faced difficulties in the worst-hit area of northern Lombok but provided few details. Dr Sutopo told a news briefing on Monday that some areas there were cut off after bridges collapsed.

Mr Riduan, a 45-year old man whose house in Karangkauhan on Lombok was partially destroyed, said he had received no aid so far and had to buy food on his own.

"We don't get anything," he said while trying to rescue documents from his house.

Quakes continue to rattle the island, including a 5.5-magnitude tremor at around 2am local time, Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency said.


Collapsed buildings are seen at a busy intersection near the jetty in North Lombok. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

 
 
 

A total of 230 aftershocks were recorded by Tuesday morning, the agency's data showed.

Lombok had already been hit by a 6.4 quake on July 29 that killed 17 people and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.

Tourists were still leaving Lombok on Tuesday, some seen riding in military buses while others took ferries to Bali to the west of Lombok.

Officials said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated from the three Gili islands - Trawangan, Air and Meno - off the northwest coast of Lombok, where fears of a tsunami had spread soon after the quake.

Tourists and Gili residents alike were seeking to leave the islands, according to Indonesia's search and rescue agency.

Ms Michelle Thompson, an American holidaying on one of the Gilis, described a scramble to get on boats leaving for the main island during which her husband was injured.

“People were just throwing their suitcases on board and I had to struggle to get my husband on, because he was bleeding,” she said.

Despite Lombok being a popular tourist destination, no foreigners were recorded among the dead, Dr Sutopo told a news conference. Some 236 people were injured and more than 20,000 displaced, he said.


More foreign and Indonesian tourists were evacuated from Gili Trawangan, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara by Indonesian armed forces early Tuesday (Aug 7) morning. PHOTO: PUSPEN TNI  

Seven foreigners from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Korea, among others, were among those injured, the Law and Human Rights Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

“We have yet to ask for help from the international (community). But if there’s any friendly country who wants to offer help, please do,” Dr Sutopo said.

British-based charity Oxfam said it was providing clean drinking water and tarpaulin shelter sheets to 5,000 people and planned to intensify aid delivery.

The United Nations has offered to support rescue and relief efforts if required.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.