Death toll rises on Lombok

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MATARAM, 9 August 2018: The death toll from a shallow 6.9-magnitude earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok has risen above 130, officials said Wednesday, with some 156,000 forced from their homes.

The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake triggered panic among locals and tourists on Lombok on Sunday, just a week after another tremor surged through the holiday island and killed 17.

Around 1,477 people have been severely injured in the latest quake, with tens of thousands of homes damaged, and authorities have appealed for more medical personnel and basic supplies.

“We estimate the death toll of 131 will keep rising,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Workers with heavy machinery resumed searching through the rubble of homes, schools and mosques Wednesday, with hope of finding any survivors fading.

Muhammad Zainul Majdi, the governor of West Nusa Tenggara province, which covers Lombok, said there was a dire need for medical staff, food and medicine in the worst-hit areas.

Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims have been treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city of Mataram and other badly affected areas.

“We have limited human resources. Some paramedics have to be at the shelters, some need to be mobile,” Majdi told AFP.

“The scale of this quake is massive for us here in West Nusa Tenggara, this is our first experience.”

The Indonesian Red Cross said it had set up 10 mobile clinics in the north of the island and a field hospital had been established near an evacuation centre catering to more than 500 people in the village of Tanjung.

Kurniawan Eko Wibowo, a doctor at the field hospital, said most patients were suffering broken bones and head injuries.

Destruction nears 100%

Across much of the island, once-bustling villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns.

“In some villages we visited the destruction was almost 100%, all houses collapsed, roads are cracked and bridges were broken,” said Arifin Muhammad Hadi, a spokesman for the Indonesian Red Cross.

Makeshift encampments have popped up on the side of roads and rice fields, with many farmers reluctant to move far from their damaged homes and leave precious livestock behind.

Local authorities, international relief groups and the central government have begun organising aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north and east of Lombok, which was hardest hit.

The Indonesian military said that three Hercules transporter planes packed with much-needed food, medication, blankets, tents and water tanks have now arrived in Lombok.

But some evacuees have complained of being ignored or of experiencing long delays for supplies to arrive at shelters.

Tourists flee

Meanwhile, the evacuation of tourists from the Gili Islands — three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands off the northwest coast of Lombok — has finished, officials said.

“Most foreign tourists have been evacuated,” Yusuf Latif, national search and rescue team spokesman, told AFP.

Lombok airport’s general manager said airlines had laid on extra flights and his staff had been providing blankets and snacks.

Meanwhile, Khiri Travel Indonesia said it was in contact with its clients who were staying on Lombok to find alternative accommodations on nearby Bali.

The company reported Lombok airport was operating as usual, while extra flights have being added to take tourists out of Lombok.

Over the next few weeks, Khiri Travel will provide alternatives to travel programmes that scheduled visits to Gili Islands and Lombok.

The statement said it was “possible that normal travel to Lombok would resume in a few weeks’ time, especially to the largely unaffected south and eastern areas of the island”

(Source: AFP, TTR Weekly)

© Agence France-Presse

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