Powerful quake rocks Indonesian tourist island; 91 dead
MATARAM, Indonesia (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok, killing at least 91 people and shaking neighboring Bali, as authorities said Monday that rescuers still hadn’t reached some hard-hit areas and the death toll could climb.
It was the second deadly quake in a week to hit Lombok. A July 29 quake killed 16 people and damaged hundreds of houses, some of which collapsed in Sunday evening’s magnitude 7.0 temblor, killing those inside.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference that damage was “massive” in the north of Lombok.
Some areas still hadn’t been reached, with rescuers hampered by collapsed bridges, electricity blackouts and damaged roads blocked with debris.
Sutopo said the death toll had risen to 91 and more than 200 people were seriously injured. Thousands of homes and buildings were damaged and 20,000 people are in temporary shelters.
The quake, measured at a magnitude of 7.0 by Indonesian authorities and a still-powerful 6.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey, struck early Sunday evening at a depth of 10.5 kilometers (6 miles) in the northern part of Lombok.
Video showed screaming people running in panic from houses in a Bali neighborhood and vehicles rocking. On Lombok, soldiers and other rescuers carried injured people on stretchers and carpets to evacuation centers. Many victims were treated outdoors because hospitals were damaged.
“People panicked and scattered on the streets, and buildings and houses that had been damaged by the previous earthquake had become more damaged and collapsed,” Sutopo said.
The quake triggered a tsunami warning and frightened people poured out of their homes to move to higher ground, particularly in North Lombok and Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province. The warning was lifted on Sunday after only small waves were recorded.
“I was watching TV when I felt a big shake,” said Harian, a Lombok woman who gave one name. “The lamp was shaking, and people were shouting ‘Get out.’ I ran out into the dark because the power cut off.”
On Gili Trawangan, one of three popular vacation islands near Lombok, thousands of tourists and locals spent the night on a hill fearing a tsunami, said British visitor Saffron Amis.
“There was a lot of screaming and crying, particularly from the locals,” said Amis, from Brighton. “We spoke to a lot of them and they were panicking about their family in Lombok. It was just a lot of panic because no one knew what was happening.”
Thousands of people are now trying to get off the island, she said, describing the mood as both somber and panicked.
Hundreds of people packed a sliver of brilliant white beach on the 16-square-kilometer (6-square-mile) island, shouting at rescue personnel trying to ensure an orderly evacuation, video and photos supplied by the local water police showed.
Sutopo said there were no fatalities among the local and foreign tourists and a joint search and rescue team had deployed three ships to evacuate people.
Australia’s home affairs minister tweeted that he and his delegation were safely evacuated in darkness from a Lombok hotel where they have been staying during a regional security conference.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Fairfax Media that he was on the hotel’s 12th floor when the quake struck. He said the quake “was powerful enough to put us on the floor” and cut power.
The Bali and Lombok airports continued operating Sunday night, according to the director general of civil aviation. There had been a half-hour evacuation at the Lombok airport following the quake because the electricity went off. TV showed crying women consoling each other outside Lombok’s airport.
Model Chrissy Teigen, who was in Bali with singer-husband John Legend and their two children, live-tweeted the shaking.
“Bali. Trembling. So long,” Teigen tweeted to her 10.6 million followers.
Several hours later, she asked news organizations not to write more stories about her lively stream-of-consciousness tweets, suggesting media share information to help those who need it instead.
Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Associated Press writer Stephen Wright in Jakarta contributed.