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Deadly earthquake hits Indonesia's Lombok island

March 17, 2019

At least two people have been killed after a 'moderately strong' earthquake hit Indonesia's Lombok tourist island. At least 77 others have lost their lives in landslides and flash floods in the country's Papua province.

Rescue workers looking for storm victims
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Basarnas

Officials in Indonesia said on Sunday an earthquake triggered a landslide from the country's second highest volcano, Mount Rinjani. The 5.5-magnitude quake was felt across Lombok, a popular trekking destination. 

Two tourists were killed in the landslide and 44 other people were injured, said an official from Indonesia's disaster agency. Dozens of people visiting the nearby Tiu Kelep waterfall were rescued.  

Lombok, which is just east of Bali, was struck by a major quake last August that killed more than 300 people and left thousands homeless. 

Indonesia is located on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and regularly experiences earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Read more: Ring of Fire: Five facts about the most earthquake-prone region in the world

Deadly flash floods 

Flash floods and mudslides in the country's easternmost Papua province meanwhile killed at least 77 people and injured more than 70 others, local officials said on Monday, raising the death toll. Thousands of people have been left homeless.

The flooding was due to torrential rain, which hit the provincial capital of Jayapura beginning Saturday.

"Most of the bodies were found under damaged houses and buried under materials brought down from the mountain area by the flash floods," said a spokesman for Papua police, Muhammad Aidi. 

Read moreHundreds rescued in Australia after record flooding

Nine villages flooded

The water has submerged more than 150 houses in the badly hit Sentani area near Jayapura, said Sutopo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

He added that nine villages in Jayapura had been flooded and three bridges damaged. 

"Waters have now receded, leaving mud, logs and other materials carried by the flash floods," Nugroho said in a statement, adding that the death toll "will probably increase because the evacuation process is still taking place and not all affected areas have been reached."

A stream of mud that has swept away trees and houses
The rains triggered mudslides that buried dozens of homes in SentaniImage: Edward Hehareuw via Reuters

More than 4,000 people were staying in temporary shelters, with authorities, the Red Cross and volunteers helping the displaced.

The province's administration has declared a two-week emergency in order to get assistance from the central government.

Papua is Indonesia's easternmost province. It shares an island with the nation of Papua New Guinea.

Flooding is fairly common during Indonesia's rainy season, which runs from October to April. In January, floods and landslides killed at least 70 people on Sulawesi Island. Severe inundation triggered by downpours in West Java province earlier this month also prompted hundreds of people to flee their homes.

kw, cmb/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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