SINGAPORE – When the hotel room of Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam started shaking, he decided to run out of his room because he was not sure if the building would hold up.
“It was shaking very violently and I could tell this wasn’t a building that, I think, was designed to withstand these sorts of events,” Mr Shanmugam told reporters on Monday (Aug 6) afternoon, about an hour after he landed in Singapore.
“The general rule is that in earthquakes you don’t stand up, you don’t run, you go and find a sturdy piece of furniture and go under. But I thought, given the way the building was behaving maybe it’s better that I try and leave,” he said.
Mr Shanmugam had arrived in Mataram, Lombok, on Sunday morning with an 11-member Singapore delegation for a sub-regional counter-terrorism meeting co-hosted by Indonesia and Australia.
That evening, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian resort island. More than 90 people have died. No Singaporeans have been injured so far, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Shanmugam was working on his laptop in his hotel room on the 10th floor when the room suddenly shook violently at about 8pm.
In a Facebook update on Monday, Mr Shanmugam said that the delegation was only able to grab the most essential items from their hotel rooms before evacuating.
Mr Shanmugam took with him his laptop with government emails, he said, adding that they were only able to get more items out of the hotel on Monday morning.
He also shared photos of his bathroom in his hotel room, showing wall tiles that came loose. Other photos showed buildings with cracks and shattered glass on the street.
Sharing more details of his experience on Sunday evening, he said the group had waited by the roadside before heading to another hotel, which was low-rise and had three floors.
However, as they arrived there, "people were running out", he added.
Eventually, they went to the airport, where they waited at the airport police post.
"The police officers there were kind," he said, though the airport was chaotic with a lot of people.
In his post, Mr Shanmugam said that he is currently waiting for a flight out of Lombok and thanked everyone for the kind thoughts and prayers.
The quake, which struck at a depth of 15km off the north coast of Lombok, prompted a tsunami warning which was later lifted at 8.25pm local time.
In an earlier Facebook post, Mr Shanmugam noted that while the Singapore delegation was safe, there were casualties among other guests.
Speaking to reporters in Singapore on Monday afternoon, he said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is "trying to get (Singaporeans) on to commercial flights and get them out" of Lombok.
He added that the delegation has left Lombok. "The Indonesians provided transport, some of us left on commercial flights as well," he said.
Mr Shanmugam said that the earthquake is a "tragedy for the people of Indonesia, the people of Lombok", and that "our thoughts and prayers are with them".