JAKARTA — Medical equipment, tents and other supplies Monday were being rushed to the Indonesian island of Lombok after a devastating earthquake killed at least 98 people and left about 20,000 people homeless, disaster relief officials said.
The earthquake Sunday evening, coming only a week after another deadly earthquake in Lombok, knocked down bridges, left roads blocked and damaged communications infrastructure, making it difficult for emergency crews to reach some hard-hit areas.
Arifin Hadi, spokesman for the Indonesian Red Cross, said that “the disaster on Lombok is big, there are many houses down, there needs to be roads cleared.” Hadi said the Red Cross has sent nurses, doctors and drinking water to Lombok. “We have 11 water trucks there now, we will send 10 more from Surabaya” (Indonesia’s second biggest city, in the east of island of Java).
Many Lombok buildings were damaged or destroyed by the latest quake, which Indonesian officials measured at magnitude 7.0 and the U.S. Geological Survey reported at magnitude 6.9.
Hospitals in Mataram, Lombok’s main town, also were damaged, making treatment more difficult.
“It is estimated that the number of victims and damage due to earthquake impacts will continue to increase,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency, said Monday evening local time, posting on Twitter.
The total confirmed death toll by Monday evening was 98, including two people on the nearby resort island of Bali. About 13,000 houses are estimated to have been destroyed or damaged on Lombok, an island of almost 3.5 million people.
Sunday evening’s earthquake prompted a tsunami warning that was lifted before 10 p.m. local time. Indonesian officials reported a magnitude 5.4 aftershock shortly before 11 p.m. Monday, which will likely further hamper efforts to reach some areas Tuesday. Sunday’s temblor came a week after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake killed 16 people on Lombok and left hundreds of hikers stranded for up to two days on Mount Rinjani, a 12,224-foot-high volcano.
About a thousand people, mostly tourists, were being evacuated by boat from the Gili Islands, an archipelago of smaller islands off Lombok also popular with surfers and beachgoers.
Ersha Apriolla, who works in the e-commerce section at the Lombok Astoria hotel in Mataram said ” in Mataram itself the damage is not too bad but all over Lombok a lot of people afraid to stay indoors, they sleep in the tent.”
She said “the hotel did not sustain much damage, just several cracks in the wall” but had laid out beds and blankets in the lobby for guests who prefer not to sleep in their rooms since the earthquake. “Ee accommodate the guests who don’t want to stay in their rooms to stay in the lobby, as many are afraid of more earthquakes.”
The earthquake was felt on nearby Bali, which received nearly 5.7 million foreign visitors in 2017. Many of Lombok’s visitors typically arrive by boat from Bali, a 3.5-hour trip.
Those who experienced the earthquake included government ministers from Australia and Singapore who were visiting for a regional government conference.
Model Chrissy Teigen was holidaying in Bali when Sunday’s earthquake hit and subsequently tweeted, “Oh man. We are on stilts. It felt like a ride.”
Made up of an estimated 17,000 islands, Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The 3,000-mile-long archipelago frequently experiences earthquakes and is home to around 120 active volcanoes, including Mount Agung on Bali, which has been erupting on and off for almost a year, prompting sporadic evacuations and airport closures.
In 2004, a 9.1 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia’s western-most island, caused a massive tsunami that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including about 120,000 in Indonesia, mostly in the north Sumatra region of Aceh
Muhammad Dirhamsyah of Aceh’s disaster management agency said that Indonesia has “become more resilient” after frequent natural disasters in recent years.
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Aceh in December 2016 left 104 people dead and prompted people to flee immediately to high ground due to fears of another huge wave.
“There is so much information now about what to do — we have WhatsApp groups, people are aware of the dangers,” Dirhamsyah said.