At least 82 people are now known to have died after a powerful earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday, emergency officials say. Hundreds of people have been wounded by the quake, disaster management officials added, BBC reports. The powerful quake was also felt on the neighbouring island of Bali, one of Indonesia’s most popular attractions, where people ran onto the streets in terror. The shallow seven-magnitude tremor struck just 10 kilom tres (six miles) underground, according to the US Geological Survey, followed by further secondary quakes and nearly two dozen aftershocks.
It was the second quake to hit Lombok, whose beaches and hiking trails draw holidaymakers from around the world, in a week. Rescue officials said much of the damage had hit Lombok’s main city of Mataram. Residents of the city described a strong jolt that sent people scrambling to get out of buildings. “Everyone immediately ran out of their homes, everyone is panicking,” Iman, who like many Indonesians has one name, told AFP. Electricity was knocked out in several parts of the city and patients were evacuated from the main hospital, witnesses and officials said.
Pictures showed patients lying on their beds outside the clinic while doctors in blue scrubs attended to them. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, said most of the damaged buildings in the city were built with substandard construction materials.
Impossible to stand up
Singapore’s Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was in Lombok for a security conference when the earthquake struck, described on Facebook how his hotel room on the 10th floor shook violently.
“Walls cracked, it was quite impossible to stand up,” he said. Officials issued a tsunami warning, which was later cancelled, but seawater poured into two villages, senior disaster agency official Dwikorita Karnawati told local TV. The quake caused light damage as far away as the Javanese city of Bandung, some 955 kilometres from Mataram, but was felt strongly on the neighbouring resort island of Bali.
People could be heard screaming as locals and tourists ran onto the road. Agung Widodo, a resident of Bali’s main town of Denpasar, said he felt two strong tremors. “The first one lasted quite a while, the second one was only about two-to-five seconds. The first one was the bigger one,” he told AFP.
Bali’s international airport suffered damage to its terminal but the runway was unaffected and operations had returned to normal, disaster agency officials said. Facilities at Lombok’s main airport were also unaffected, although passengers were briefly evacuated from the main terminal. The tremor came a week after a shallow 6.4-magnitude quake hit Lombok, killing 17 people and damaging hundreds of buildings. It triggered landslides that briefly trapped trekkers on popular mountain hiking routes.
Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia that killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.