Monday 10 December 2018

Third strong earthquake shakes Lombok as death toll tops 300

The 5.9 magnitude aftershock damaged buildings, caused landslides and sparked panic.

Birds sit above earthquake-damaged homes in North Lombok (AP)
Birds sit above earthquake-damaged homes in North Lombok (AP)

By Andi Jatmiko

The Indonesian island of Lombok has been shaken by a third big earthquake in little more than a week as the official death toll from the most powerful of the quakes topped 300.

The strong aftershock, measured at magnitude 5.9 by the US Geological Survey, caused panic, damage to buildings, landslides and injuries.

It was centred in the north-west of the island and did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, Indonesia’s geological agency said.

Videos showed rubble strewn across streets and clouds of dust enveloping buildings.

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A woman carries her child at a temporary shelter (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

The aftershock had caused more “trauma”, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Wiranto, Indonesia’s top security minister, who goes by one name, told reporters the death toll from Sunday’s magnitude 7.0 quake had risen to 319. The announcement came after an inter-agency meeting was called to resolve wildly different figures from different agencies.

“We are taking action as fast as we can to handle this disaster,” Wiranto said.

Grieving relatives are burying their dead as medics tend to people whose broken limbs have not yet been treated in the days since the quake.

The Red Cross said it is focusing relief efforts on an estimated 20,000 people yet to receive any assistance.

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Villagers gather at a temporary shelter (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

In Kopang Daya village in the hard-hit Tanjung district of north Lombok, a distraught family was burying their 13-year-old daughter who was struck by a collapsing wall and then trampled when the quake Sunday caused a stampede at her Islamic boarding school.

Villagers and relatives prayed outside a tent where the girl’s body lay inside covered in a white cloth.

Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed in Sunday’s quake and more than 150,000 people are homeless. The earlier earthquakes also left cracks in walls and roofs, making the weakened buildings susceptible to collapse.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 magnitude earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Press Association

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