Lombok earthquake

Singaporeans back from island tell of chaos; others still heading there

A man carrying a small bicycle through the ruins of houses damaged by an earthquake in West Lombok, Indonesia, on Aug 6, 2018.
A man carrying a small bicycle through the ruins of houses damaged by an earthquake in West Lombok, Indonesia, on Aug 6, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS/ANTARA

Singaporeans returning on the first flights back from Lombok spoke of the chaos when the earthquake struck.

Mr Muhammad Ashraf Arsat, 31, an engineering assistant, was with his wife on SilkAir Flight MI127, which landed at 9.58pm last night.

"There was dust coming down, tiles on the wall and roof falling around us... and a lot of screaming, people were shouting and calling out God's name," said Mr Ashraf, who travelled to Lombok last Friday for his honeymoon.

His wife, Ms Zafirah Sulaiman, 30, said they were at the Katamaran Resort on Lombok Island when they were jolted by the quake and the power went out. "It was total chaos, I was in a state of confusion," said the administrator.

Over at Meno Island, off Lombok, Mr Jared Wang, who had gone to the resort island on Sunday for a snorkelling holiday, was travelling back to his hotel after dinner with his girlfriend.

"It was chaotic, people were crying around us... it was completely dark," said the 27-year-old analyst, describing the scene of people seeking higher ground after a tsunami warning was issued.

Yesterday morning at Changi Airport, most flights to Lombok and Bali were operating as usual.

Mr Jimmy Wang and his wife were spotted at the airport yesterday morning checking in for their flight to Bali, where they are due to hold their wedding.

Mr Wang, 31, a Singaporean who works in IT infrastructure, told The Straits Times that he is going ahead with the trip, as they had spent a year planning for the wedding and are expecting about 50 guests. "Of course we are worried, but we're hoping it'll be fine after the quake."

 
 
 

When contacted, local travel agencies said they had not received any requests from customers so far to cancel their trips.

Ms Justine Koh, a spokesman for Chan Brothers Travel, said: "If required, necessary changes to flights and itineraries will be made in order to allow our travellers to continue their programmes as scheduled, as far as possible."

Dynasty Travel spokesman Alicia Seah told The Straits Times that several customers have re-routed parts of their holiday plans to Malaysia and Vietnam since the last quake in Lombok on July 29.

Some Singaporeans have also chosen to return home early.

Friends Rebecca Tan and Natasha Lim landed at Changi Airport on an AirAsia flight at about 11.30am yesterday, after just one day of a planned week-long vacation. The pair were in Seminyak, Bali, when they experienced the aftershocks and tremors.

"We felt two tremors on Sunday evening which lasted about a minute. The water in the pool was moving as well," said Ms Lim, 21, an undergraduate.

Ms Tan, 25, who works in advertising, added: "We thought it was too big a risk to take, and we will keep wondering when another aftershock will hit."

Yesterday, the first flight from Singapore to Lombok following the quake departed at 3.45pm, with few Singaporeans on board. Most of the 30 passengers seen waiting for SilkAir flight MI128 at the departure lounge were tourists.

Among them was British national Matt Sherriff, 33, and his wife Poppy, 28, who flew in from London yesterday morning and had a transit in Singapore before their flight to Lombok.

The couple chose to go ahead with their holiday. "We just wanted to go somewhere new, and to do literally nothing for a week," said Mr Sherriff. "It's not an adventure without any risks."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'S'poreans back from island tell of chaos; others still heading there'. Print Edition | Subscribe