More quakes rock Indonesia’s Lombok island, killing 12

Islanders weary after weeks of tremors have shaken the region and the death toll rises

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 August, 2018, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 August, 2018, 9:17pm

At least 12 people were killed and 25 injured on the Indonesian islands of Lombok and Sumbawa after two strong earthquakes, Indonesian officials said on Monday.

Almost 2,000 houses were also damaged or destroyed.

Efforts to assess the situation in East Lombok have met difficulties because communications with the area were cut off and some roads were damaged by the quakes, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

At least 101 smaller quakes with magnitudes as high as 5.8 had occurred by 1:25am on Monday, according to the Jakarta-based Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

Both temblors were strongly felt on Lombok and also nearby Bali, sending people into a panic, according to Sutopo.

Some of the victims of the Sunday quake were found in the island’s East Lombok Regency, which is believed to be the area most affected by the quake, while the others were found on nearby Sumbawa Island, Sutopo said.

Lombok faces painful rebuilding process after deadly quakes

“When the earthquake happened most people were outside their homes or at shelters so there have not been that many fatalities” compared with the August 5 tremor, he said.

“The trauma because of the earlier quake on Sunday [lunchtime] made people prefer to stay outside,” he added.

A quake at 12:10pm on Sunday caused landslides on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, a 3,726-metre high active volcano on Lombok that is popular among international and local tourists.

Officials moved some patients from a hospital in Sumbawa and in Lombok’s capital Mataram for fear of worse destruction.

“I’m too scared to stay at my house because it’s damaged,” said Lombok resident Saruniwati. “I’ve been here since the quake [earlier this month]. I went home two days ago and now I’m back here again.”

Earthquake lifted Indonesian island of Lombok by 10cm

The temblors came two weeks after a magnitude 6.9 quake struck Lombok’s northwest, killing at least 471 people, according to the latest count. A week earlier, the island was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that killed 17 people.

Another Lombok local, Agus Salim, said the powerful tremor jolted him awake Sunday evening.

“The earthquake was incredibly strong. Everything was shaking,” he said. “Everyone ran into the street screaming and crying.”

The disasters have raised fears that Lombok’s key tourism industry would take a beating, but the international airport was operating normally on Monday.

“People have been arriving and leaving Lombok as usual since last night – there’s been no sudden rush of people trying to get out,” said I Gusti Ngurah Ardita, general manager of Lombok Praya International Airport.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

The Australian and Eurasian plates, which sit under the archipelago, have been colliding and putting stress on key area fault lines, according to a geologist.

“Clearly there are different parts of the fault that are moving at the moment releasing those stressors,” said Chris Elders, an expert in plate tectonics and structural geology at Curtin University in West Australia.

Kyodo, Agence France-Presse