Rescue efforts under way at Lombok

Efforts are underway to rescue hundreds of climbers stranded on Mt Rinjani in Indonesia, a day after a powerful earthquake struck the popular tourist destination.
Rescue workers attending to an injured climber at Sembalun village in Lombok, Indonesia, yesterday, as their colleagues risked darkness, intermittent landslides and rockfalls to evacuate more than 560 people from Mount Rinjani following Sunday's 6.4-
Rescue workers attending to an injured climber at Sembalun village in Lombok, Indonesia, yesterday, as their colleagues risked darkness, intermittent landslides and rockfalls to evacuate more than 560 people from Mount Rinjani following Sunday's 6.4-magnitude quake that struck the island. More than 335 people were injured and about 5,100 displaced. PHOTO: REUTERS
President Joko Widodo visiting victims at a makeshift shelter in Sambelia district, Lombok, yesterday. He assured them that the government will provide aid to residents whose homes were destroyed.
President Joko Widodo visiting victims at a makeshift shelter in Sambelia district, Lombok, yesterday. He assured them that the government will provide aid to residents whose homes were destroyed.PHOTO: INDONESIAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE

Quake claims 16 lives, as rescuers battle darkness, landslides and falling rocks

Rescuers have been racing against time to evacuate more than 560 people from Mount Rinjani on Lombok, after a 6.4-magnitude quake struck the island in West Nusa Tenggara province on Sunday morning.

Among them are five Singaporean climbers, said the National Disaster Management Agency yesterday.

The Indonesian military (TNI) has also deployed its Kopassus special forces troops to support rescue efforts in hard-to-reach areas on the mountain, and to distribute aid.

The quake has claimed 16 lives, said local authorities, and the fatalities include a Malaysian woman and a climber from South Sulawesi province, who died in Mount Rinjani National Park.

The climber, identified as Mr Muhammad Ainul Muksin, was hit by a landslide during the quake. His body has not been recovered because, as a precaution, the trail to his location has been closed.

Malaysian Siti Nur Ismawida, 30, died after she was buried under the rubble of a guest-house she was staying in on Mount Rinjani, officials said yesterday.

She was among 820 trekkers, including 637 foreigners, who were in the vicinity of Mount Rinjani during the earthquake.

LOUD RUMBLE

I heard this loud rumbling noise and felt the ground starting to shake, and I somehow knew that it was an earthquake and quickly warned my group mates, telling them to squat and stay low to avoid any injuries.

MR MOHAMMAD AZFAR SAARI, project director of a community outreach programme started by National University of Singapore's Muslim Society members.

CLINICS DESTROYED

The local public clinics in Sembalun have also been totally destroyed, so the TNI is setting up a field hospital...

MEDICAL SHELTER COORDINATOR ASRIHADI

More than 335 people in Lombok were injured and about 5,100 displaced after their homes were damaged by the quake.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo boarded a military helicopter yesterday morning to inspect the area. He also visited victims to reassure them that the government will support the recovery efforts, including giving aid to residents whose homes were destroyed.

"We want to convey our deepest sorrows for this disaster, especially for the deceased," said Mr Joko yesterday afternoon after his visit to a makeshift shelter in Sambelia district in East Lombok regency.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of seismic activity that runs around the Pacific Ocean, where 90 per cent of the world's quakes occur, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The Lombok quake comes amid worries over the conditions at Mount Agung, a volcano in nearby Bali that has been erupting periodically since it rumbled back to life last November, causing dozens of flight cancellations after it spewed ash into the sky.

Volcanic activity in Bali, however, has since slowed but Indonesia remains on edge as any eruption in the region will likely affect the International Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meetings set to be held in Bali from Oct 12.

Both Lombok and Bali, however, continue to attract hordes of visitors, including 337 Thai tourists reportedly trapped on Mount Rinjani owing to Sunday's quake.

A group of 20 from the National University of Singapore (NUS) that was in Lombok as part of Project ASA RE-ACH, a community outreach programme started by NUS Muslim Society members, has made its way to safety.

NUS said that, as a precautionary move, arrangements had been made for the students to return to Singapore today.

 
 

The group's project director, Mr Mohammad Azfar Saari, told The Straits Times from Lombok that some members of the group were at the beach in Labuan Pandan when the earthquake struck.

"I heard this loud rumbling noise and felt the ground starting to shake, and somehow I knew it was an earthquake and quickly warned my group mates, telling them to squat and stay low to avoid any injuries," said Mr Azfar.

He added that local residents also told them to move inland quickly in case of a tsunami and they set up camp near Sembalun where they would remain until it was time to head to the airport for their flight.

"I pray the people of Lombok will recover from this unfortunate event," said Mr Azfar. "From the last eight days of being here, it is evident the people are full of sincerity and a close-knit bunch. I hope they will be provided with the aid they need."

Nightfall , intermittent landslides and falling rocks continued to hamper rescue efforts, said medical shelter coordinator Asrihadi, who goes by just one name.

"The local public clinics in Sembalun have also been totally destroyed, so the TNI is setting up a field hospital, but we do not know when the Mount Rinjani trail will be opened again to continue our evacuation," he added.

Lombok airport remained open, and regional carrier SilkAir said yesterday that none of its flights between Singapore and the island was affected by the earthquake.

Singapore travel agencies Chan Brothers Travel and Dynasty Travel said upcoming tours to Lombok were unaffected for now, with a Dynasty Travel spokesman saying they were monitoring the situation.

•Additional reporting by Meita Annissa and Tiffany Fumiko Tay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2018, with the headline 'Rescue efforts under way at Lombok'. Print Edition | Subscribe