More than 1,200 hikers evacuated from Indonesian volcano: Officials

Local and foreign climbers descending from Mount Rinjani a day after the 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Lombok, which was followed by scores of aftershocks.
Local and foreign climbers descending from Mount Rinjani a day after the 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Lombok, which was followed by scores of aftershocks.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA -The last of more than 1,200 trekkers trapped on Indonesia’s Mount Rinjani after a 6.4-magnitude quake struck Lombok last weekend have been evacuated, officials have said.

Another body was found on Tuesday (July 31), bringing the death toll from the quake to 17.

Speaking to reporters as the multi-agency rescue efforts wound down yesterday, provincial disaster mitigation agency chief Muhammad Rum warned of aftershocks from Sunday’s earthquake.

“Aftershocks are still possible, but while their strength should not exceed 6.4-magnitude on the Richter scale, we ask members of the public to remain careful when in buildings with cracks,” he said.

The earthquake, which struck the island in West Nusa Tenggara province on Sunday morning, has claimed at least 17 lives, and displaced more than 10,000 people from their damaged homes.

One of the two bodies recovered yesterday was that of climber Muhammad Ainul Muksin,  26, who died in a landslide during the earthquake on Sunday.

His body was not recovered earlier because the trail to his location had been closed as a precaution in the aftermath of the quake.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a text message yesterday a rescue team was in the process of evacuating Mr Ainul’s body from the Pelawangan trail.

The body of Malaysian trekker Siti Nur Ismawida, 30, who died after she was buried under the rubble of the guest-house she was staying in on Mount Rinjani, was flown home to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday evening.

 

A joint evacuation team made up of 244 personnel from Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Basarnas, the military, police, Mount Rinjani National Park Office, medics and volunteers, have been working non-stop to evacuate the last of visitors to the mountain.

“The number of visitors successfully evacuated between Sunday and Tuesday came up to as many as 1,226 people, comprising 696 foreigners and 530 citizens of Indonesia,” said Dr Sutopo, adding that Mount Rinjani National Park will remain closed until further notice.

 

State news agency Antara yesterday reported that a baby had been safely delivered at an emergency shelter in Sembalun district, two days after the earthquake, with four more women expected to give birth.

They could not be admitted to the local public clinic, known as Puskesmas, due to fears that the building may collapse from aftershocks.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday to offer his condolences, saying he was deeply saddened by the tragic loss of lives, injuries, and destruction.

“On behalf of the people of Singapore, I offer my heartfelt condolences to Indonesia and the families affected by the disaster,” said PM Lee in his letter.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Indonesia during this difficult time, and I wish the injured a speedy recovery. Singapore stands ready to assist Indonesia in whatever way we can.”

Earlier in the week, President Joko visited the victims and those displaced by the quake, and said his government would help support recovery efforts, including giving aid to residents whose homes were destroyed.
 
Mr Rum said local authorities are still assessing the full scale of the damage, but added that home-owners whose houses are deemed “moderately to severely damaged” would receive 50 million rupiah (S$4,700)  in government aid.

Those whose homes were “lightly damaged” will receive 10 million rupiah, with the funds expected to be disbursed within the next 50 days.