Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | ePaper

Death toll in Lombok quake hits 131, more than 156,000 displaced

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Villagers shelter in tents in west Lombok after the weekend's deadly quake.

AFP, Mataram :
The death toll from a shallow 6.9-magnitude earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok has risen above 130, officials said Wednesday, with some 156,000 forced from their homes.
The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake triggered panic among locals and tourists on Lombok on Sunday, just a week after another tremor surged through the holiday island and killed 17.
Around 1,477 people have been severely injured in the latest quake, with tens of thousands of homes damaged, and authorities have appealed for more medical personnel and basic supplies.
"We estimate the death toll of 131 will keep rising," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
Workers with heavy machinery resumed searching through the rubble of homes, schools and mosques Wednesday, with hope of finding any survivors fading.
Muhammad Zainul Majdi, the governor of West Nusa Tenggara province which covers Lombok, said there was a dire need for medical staff, food and medicine in the worst-hit areas.
Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims have been treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city of Mataram and other badly affected areas.
"We have limited human resources. Some paramedics have to be at the shelters, some need to be mobile," Majdi told AFP.
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People crowding the beach as they wait to be evacuated from Gili Trawangan island to neighbouring Lombok island
"The scale of this quake is massive for us here in West Nusa Tenggara, this is our first experience."
Some evacuees are grappling with the traumatic scenes of death and destruction that accompanied the quake.
"I saw my neighbour get stuck in the rubble and die. He asked me for help, but I couldn't help him, we just ran to help ourselves," Johriah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP tearfully.
The Indonesian Red Cross said it had set up 10 mobile clinics in the north of the island and a field hospital had been established near an evacuation centre catering to more than 500 people in the village of Tanjung.
Kurniawan Eko Wibowo, a doctor at the field hospital, said most patients were suffering broken bones and head injuries.
"We lack the infrastructure to perform operations because (they) need to be performed in a sterile place," Wibowo told AFP.
Across much of the island, once-bustling villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns.
"In some villages we visited the destruction was almost 100 percent, all houses collapsed, roads are cracked and bridges were broken," said Arifin Muhammad Hadi, a spokesman for the Indonesian Red Cross.
Makeshift encampments have popped up on the side of roads and rice fields, with many farmers reluctant to move far from their damaged homes and leave precious livestock behind.
"It's typical of earthquake victims in Indonesia, they want to stay close to their livelihood, they can't bring their livestock to the shelters," Hadi said.

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