Lombok quake: Death toll climbs to 105, evacuation and rescue efforts ongoing

Rescuers looking for survivors after an earthquake struck northern Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, on Aug 7, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PEMENANG, INDONESIA - The 7-magnitude earthquake that struck Indonesia's tourist island of Lombok on Sunday has claimed more victims, with the death toll climbing to 105, the National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a press conference on Tuesday (Aug 7).

The quake also left 236 people injured.

Dr Sutopo said that authorities from Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan, among others, have expressed their intention to provide assistance.

Earlier in the day, a woman was pulled alive from a collapsed building, two days after the powerful earthquake killed dozens, destroyed villages and left thousands of people homeless, according to Reuters.

Ms Nadia Revanale, 23, was shopping in a minimart in Pemenang at the time of the tremor, the second major quake to rock the island in a week. Neighbours heard cries for help from the mangled concrete and alerted rescuers, who took four hours to extract her.

"First we used our hands to clear the debris, then hammers, chisels and machines to slowly remove the pieces," Mr Marcos Eric, a volunteer rescue worker from a mining company, told Reuters after an ambulance had taken the woman away.

"It took many hours but we're thankful it worked and this person was found alive," he said.

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

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Quakes continued to rattle the island, including a 5.5-magnitude tremor at around 2am local time, said Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency (BMKG). More than 230 aftershocks were recorded by Tuesday morning, BMKG data showed.

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.

Thousands of tourists have left Lombok since Sunday evening, fearing further earthquakes, some on extra flights that were laid on by airlines and some on ferries to Bali.

Officials said more than 3,000 people had been evacuated from the three Gili islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, where fears of a tsunami spread soon after the quake.

Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said on Twitter that it had rescued more than 3,000 people from the Gilis by Monday evening and many more were yet to be evacuated.

Ms Saffron Amis, a British student on Gili Trawangan - the largest of the islands that are fringed by white beaches and surrounded by turquoise sea - said there were at least 200 people stranded there and others were still arriving from the other two, Gili Air and Gili Meno.

"We still have no Wifi and very little power. Gili Air has run out of food and water so they have come to us," she told Reuters in a text, then messaging later that she had been taken on a boat to the main island and would head from there to Bali.

In the north of Lombok, the earthquake's epicentre, rescuers were holding out hope that more people would be pulled alive from the wreckage of thousands of buildings that collapsed.

Early in the morning, they heard a weak voice coming from under the pile of bricks and mangled steel bars of a two-storey mosque in Lading-Lading village, where four people were believed to have been trapped.

"We are looking for access. We have a machine that can drill or cut through concrete so we may use that. We are waiting for heavier equipment," Basarnas official Teddy Aditya told Reuters.

Dr Sutopo said on Twitter on Tuesday that evacuation and rescue efforts are still ongoing at the collapsed mosque. He said that there were three dead and one survivor as of 9am.

Indonesian police and volunteers unload supplies as authorities continue to evacuate tourists from nearby Gili Trawangan island, at the port at Bangsal in northern Lombok, on Aug 7, 2018, two days after the area was struck by an earthquake. PHOTO: AFP

The BNPB said more than 20,000 people had been displaced by the quake as it brought down or damaged some 13,000 houses, and many of those were living in open areas in need of food, medicine and other aid.

Aid agency Oxfam said it was providing clean drinking water and tarpaulin shelters to 5,000 survivors, but the needs were much greater.

"Thousands... are under open skies in need of drinking water, food, medical supplies, and clothes," it said in a statement. "Clean drinking water is scarce due to the extremely dry weather conditions leading up the disaster."

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