Earthquake devastates Lombok

DENPARSAR, 7 August 2018: Tour companies are suspending travel to Lombok and Gili Islands in Indonesia following Sunday’s 6.9 category earthquake that killed 91 people and injured over 200.

But the immediate task is to evacuate thousands of tourists from the two islands.

The BBC estimated as many as 1,000 tourists were stranded on Gili Islands, while it was estimated as many as 10,000 residents were being evacuated to safe areas.

Asian Trails Indonesia updating its travel partners, Monday, said it was suspending all travel to the Gili Island and Lombok until 9 August.

The statement said the company was consulting with local partners, government agencies and hotels in the area to assess the situation on Lombok and the Gili Islands.

“We need to evaluate if it is safe to send clients from 10 August onwards,” the travel advisory stated.

Some tour groups are already being evacuated from Lombok.

However, Asian Trails noted that as there were no speedboat crossings and long queues were building up at jetties as travellers wait for ferry crossings. There were also limited flights available.

Tour groups handled by Asian Trails still remain on both islands. They were staying in temporary camp facilities, Monday night, in safe areas set up by the travel company.

Witnesses described to the BBC chaos and terror as buildings collapsed and power and communication lines were cut on the islands.

Boats have been sent to evacuate more than 1,000 tourists from the nearby Gili islands.

The agencies said the impact was far bigger than another quake that hit Lombok last week, killing 16 people.

Three C-130 Hercules aircraft and two helicopters have been deployed to deliver tents and medical aid, but the earthquake has destroyed roads and bridges, making areas difficult to reach. One official said 80% of north Lombok had suffered damage.

The main city of Mataram was also badly affected, with medical staff struggling to cope with the injured at the damaged hospitals.

Situated off the northwest of Lombok and popular with backpackers and divers, they were badly hit, with a number of hotels damaged.

(Source: TTR Weekly, BBC)