Indonesia Earthquake: At Least 98 Dead and 20,000 Homeless

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the island of Lombok killed at least 98 people and displaced around 20,000 others.

MATARAM, Indonesia — A day after an earthquake devastated an Indonesian resort island, hundreds of tourists remained stranded, hotels were filled to capacity and rescuers continued to dig through rubble in a search for survivors.

The 7.0-magnitude temblor on the island of Lombok claimed at least 98 lives and injured an additional 236 people. It left at least 20,000 people homeless, and sent thousands of tourists fleeing.

No tourists were reported killed. But the earthquake on Sunday, which struck at 6:46 p.m. local time, was felt as far away as the neighboring island of Bali, where two people died. And it was followed by more than a dozen aftershocks, including one Monday morning that registered a magnitude of 5.4.

Long lines formed at the airport of Lombok’s main town, Mataram, as tourists cut short their holidays. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said 18 extra flights had been added for departing tourists.

“I was at the rooftop of my hotel and the building started swaying very hard,” Gino Poggiali, a 43-year-old Frenchman who was with his wife and two children at the airport, told The Associated Press. “I could not stand up.”

The Indonesian Red Cross said on Twitter that it had helped a woman give birth at a health post after the quake. One of the names she gave the baby boy was “Gempa,” which means earthquake.

Credit...Antara Foto/Reuters

The earthquake and the dozens of aftershocks that have followed have left many people jumpy and unwilling to stay indoors.

In Mataram, the main city on Lombok, which is just east of Bali, many hundreds of people slept in fields or their cars Monday evening.

Some slept in tents that are usually used by hikers who climb Mt. Rinjani, which was hit hard by a 6.4-magnitude quake on July 29. That quake killed 17 people and injured more than 160.

Some even slept in the street, thinking this would be safer than staying in their homes.

Lombok, which is next to Bali, has a growing tourist industry. Some resort hotels were damaged by the quake and had to ask their guests to leave.

Many tourists wanted to depart Lombok as quickly as possible, but were unable to get flights off the island.

Hotels in Mataram that were not damaged were filled to capacity Monday evening. Many people who were unable to get rooms slept in the lobbies of the larger hotels.

At Lombok International Airport, hundreds of stranded tourists slept on the floor of the terminal.

At one point, many of them jumped up in panic and ran for the exits when they thought an aftershock had struck. But it was a false alarm and they returned to their sleeping areas.

Many residents found their houses reduced to rubble after the magnitude 7.0 temblor on Sunday along the island’s northern coast, forcing them to erect makeshift tents in their own yards, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency.

“People were allowed to return home since last night, but some refused because they were still traumatized,” Mr. Sutopo told reporters.

Among the displaced residents were inhabitants of a northern village called Mentigi, who fled to nearby hills. Blue tarpaulins filled the landscape, as people prepared to spend the nights outdoors because of aftershocks or because their homes had been destroyed.

“We are getting some aid from volunteers, but we don’t have proper tents yet,” a 50-year-old villager sheltering with his wife and children, who gave his name only as Marhun, told The Associated Press.

Sengiggi, a normally busy seaside tourist strip on Lombok, looked abandoned. Most hotels seemed to have shut, and beaches were deserted. The few restaurants left open were rationing food.

Search-and-rescue teams continued to comb through the debris of thousands of buildings and homes looking for survivors and victims as the government dispatched medical support teams to the island.

Tourists were being evacuated on ships from the Gili Islands, a collection of three tiny islands that are popular for diving and snorkeling and lie just off Lombok’s northwest coast. About 2,700 foreign and Indonesian tourists had already been taken to the mainland by early Monday evening, Mr. Sutopo said.

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has ordered the Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs to oversee all rescue, recovery and aid efforts on Lombok.

“To the people of Lombok and surrounding areas, please keep calm,” Mr. Joko said on Twitter on Monday, as the magnitude of the destruction became clear. “Our brothers are not alone in facing this ordeal. We are with you all.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Jakarta on an official visit during the weekend, also expressed condolences to the earthquake victims via Twitter.

The earthquake on Sunday was also felt on Sumbawa Island, to the east of Lombok, and in Mataram, the capital of Lombok, with two shopping malls and a cathedral suffering damage.

Television footage on Sunday night showed panicked residents and tourists fleeing to safety on both Lombok and Bali, after a warning that the quake and major aftershocks could cause a devastating tsunami. That warning was later canceled.

Indonesia straddles the Pacific Ocean’s so-called Ring of Fire, which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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