The number of dead from the 6.9-magnitude Lombok earthquake continues to rise as rescue teams search for survivors on the Indonesian island. The shallow quake left at least 80,000 people homeless.
At least 131 people were killed and nearly 1,500 injured in the Sunday earthquake on the tropical resort island of Lombok, with the numbers expected to rise further, Indonesian officials said on Wednesday,
Rescuers were digging through the rubble of homes, schools and mosques looking for survivors. Meanwhile, survivors faced another night out in the open.
Officials said that more than 80,000 people are believed to have been made homeless. Many thousands more are temporarily displaced.
The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake on Sunday destroyed thousands of buildings and triggered panic among tourists and locals. It came just a week after another tremor had surged through the holiday island and killed 17.
All across the island, once-bustling villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns, with residents sleeping out in the open, too scared to stay near their collapsed homes amid hundreds of aftershocks.
"Last night I was on the hill because I was afraid, I heard there would be a tsunami," Din Iqra, from the northern village of Malaka, told the AFP news agency. "Only this morning were we brave enough to come down."
Tourists can just leave, locals cannot
Tourist Linda Chov, who was vacationing on Gili Trawanga, told DW that it was not until she finally got to Lombok 37 hours after the quake that she saw the true scale of the devastion.
"Whole villages were demolished, locals left homeless on the side of the roads. It was really extraordinary to see and I feel for those that can't just cut their vacation short or rearrange their hotel bookings," she said, adding: "The people who are really affected by the natural disaster are those that are left picking up the pieces not us tourists."
Speaking of her experiences in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Chov described scenes of organizational initiative, helpfulness, empathy, desperation, selfishness and crime. She said: "Throughout the ordeal people's true colors really came out."
Relief efforts underway
According to Silverius Tasman from the organization Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik, a partner of Save the Children in Indonesia, many people were sleeping in makeshift shelters in rice fields or on the roadside. "They do not have a water supply and not enough food," Tasman told AFP, after visiting Karang Bajo village in the island's north. "Children are the most vulnerable."
The military dispatched five planes with food, medicine, blankets, field tents, and water tankers from Jakarta on Wednesday.
The quake struck across the Muslim-majority island during Sunday evening prayers. Rescue crews using heavy equipment to search a collapsed mosque in northern Lombok found three bodies, but also managed to pull one man alive from the twisted wreckage.
Some 5,000 tourists have been evacuated from the Gili Islands; three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands off the northwest coast of Lombok that are popular with backpackers and divers.
Following the quake, tourists crowded onto the beaches on Monday to await transport off the tropical destination.
French tourist Laurent Smadja, who had been on Gilli Meno, the smallest of the three islands, described scenes of chaos and confusion in the aftermath of the quake. "We had no electricity and no information about what to do. We saw everybody leaving in boats, but no boat came to us," he told AFP.
Shattered roads and a lack of heavy equipment have hampered efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north and east of Lombok, which were hardest hit.
Muhammad Zainul Majdi, the governor of West Nusa Tenggara, said the province was in desperate need of paramedics, food and medicine.
av/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)