Indonesia quake: Race against time to save buried survivors

Frederick Owens
August 8, 2018

On Sunday, June 6, Indonesia was struck by an natural disaster of 7.0 magnitude that has killed more than 90 people and damaged thousands of buildings.

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.

A woman's body was recovered from the rubble of a collapsed mosque on Wednesday morning in Bangsal district in the north of the island.

A mother bath her daughter in a bucket after their home in Sembalun Bumbung was destroyed by the Lombok quake.

"The government did give us aid, rice, noodles, and tarpaulin after the first quake [on July 29, which was magnitude 6.4], but it wasn't enough, there were too many of us", he said.

"People were just throwing their suitcases on board and I had to struggle to get my husband on, because he was bleeding", she said.

Thousands of tourists have left Lombok since Sunday, fearing further earthquakes, some on extra flights added by airlines and others on ferries to Bali. "He asked me for help, but I couldn't help him, we just ran to help ourselves", Johriah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP tearfully. About 2,700 had left, but several thousand more tourists and hotel employees are waiting to leave, he said.

Immigration authorities said seven foreigners were injured in the quake and are being treated in hospital.

The geophysics agency had issued a tsunami warning after the quake struck at 7.46 p.m. local time but it was lifted nearly two hours later after the agency detected low rising tides.

"They have not been touched by any assistance", Nguroho said.

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"This is obviously a awful tragedy and we would hope it's not compounded further by a fall-off in the vastly important tourism industry, as this is a potential double whammy for locals".

"It's typical of quake victims in Indonesia, they want to stay close to their livelihood, they can't bring their livestock to the shelters", Hadi said.

Sunday's shallow tremor sent thousands of residents and tourists scrambling outdoors in Lombok, where many spent the night as strong aftershocks including one of 5.3-magnitude rattled the island. Nugroho said authorities had deployed three ships to evacuate people who were packed on the 16-square-kilometre beach.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains.

"We still very much need food for adults and for children, [including] blankets, tents, drugs and water".

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire, " an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Ocean Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 quake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. "It was the violence of the shaking of the building - was pretty dramatic", he said in a radio interview. "But people out in the villages or elsewhere haven't been so lucky, unfortunately".

The Bali and Lombok airports have remained open.

He lives two doors away from his aunt, Salama.

It had taken at least an hour to free her from underneath the wall, he said, with the help of relatives.

Model and television presenter Chrissy Teigen was also caught up in the quake while holidaying with her family.

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