'I've never experienced fear like this' - Irish woman caught up in devastating Indonesia earthquake
An Irish couple on a holiday in Bali described their “severe terror” as two earthquakes ranging up to a magnitude of 7.0 hit Indonesia.
Rebecca McConnell (26) has been in Bali with her partner for over three weeks, taking a break from her job to travel Asia. In that time there have been two large earthquakes in Indonesia. At least 91 people have been killed and more than 200 severely injured in the 6.9 earthquake that rocked the city on Sunday evening.
The previous earthquake, of 6.4 magnitude, occurred a week before and claimed 14 lives.
Footage filmed by Ms McConnell shows the aftermath of the earthquakes, with former structures in piles of rubble on the street, fallen trees and damaged buildings. It showed the debris in the process of being cleared away by the authorities.
“I didn’t really know about the first earthquake as I was on the west coast at the time, far from where it hit,” Ms McConnell told The Independent.
“However yesterday evening, I was on the top of a bunk bed in a hostel in Kuta, south Bali. I felt the bed shake slightly at first, then increasing in strength and it hit me that it was an earthquake.”
Ms McConnell described her terrifying experience: “Severe terror entered my body and for a few seconds I was frozen, trying to remember what to do in this type of emergency. I then followed suit of the locals and headed outside the building.
“I know all earthquake routines tell you to stay inside and get under the table, but I figured the structure of this particular building did not look stable. The tremor lasted for around 20 seconds, then there was an aftershock around an hour or so later, which lasted for about 5 seconds.”
Ms McConnell said that she and her partner were on "high alert" several hours after the earthquake, as the area they were in was under a tsunami warning.
“Being from Ireland, this was my first experience of a natural disaster and it was terrifying. I’ve never felt fear like that before. I made sure to message home to let my parents know I was OK, as during the previous earthquake we had no signal and they were worried sick.
“I got talking with a local and he explained how Indonesia is in the ‘ring of fire’ and therefore prone to earthquakes. He then told me about the 2004 earthquake that triggered a tsunami killing 200,000 people.”
Ms McConnell said that while travelling from Kuta in south Bali to Ubud in the centre of Bali, she encountered many collapsed buildings and clean-ups in progress.
“The death toll is now at 91, and I am praying for the people of Lombok,” she said.
A spokesperson for Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) gave the updated toll on Monday and said all the victims were Indonesian. Nearly all of the victims were on Lombok, except for two who died in Denpasar, Bali and one who died on the Gili islands.
More than 100 aftershocks have hit the area since the quake that struck the island at 6.46pm on Sunday and 3,000 homes have been damaged, leaving many displaced.
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