World 08-08-2018

Increases to 131 the death toll from the earthquake in Indonesia

The balance of the violent earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Lombok amounted to 131 dead and 156,000 displaced, authorities said Wednesday, while rescue teams are still removing debris and foresee to find new victims.

The earthquake of magnitude 6.9 occurred on Sunday night caused scenes of panic between locals and visitors, a week after another earthquake that left at least 17 dead on this volcanic island very frequented by tourists and full of hiking trails.

There are "131 people killed, 1,477 are seriously injured and 156,000 were displaced," said a spokesman for the national disaster management agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. The previous balance was 105 dead and 236 seriously injured.

The rescue teams were still removing debris on Wednesday with the help of bulldozers. Tens of thousands of homes were damaged, according to the authorities, who reported the lack of medical personnel and basic products.

"Efforts to evacuate people intensified, but there are still many problems on the ground," Sutopo added.

In the province of the western Lesser Sunda Islands, where Lombok is located, there is currently a shortage of food, medicine and medical personnel, said its governor, Muhamad Zainul Majdi.

"Our human resources are limited, medical assistants are needed in makeshift shelters and other mobile aids," he told AFP.

"The extent of this earthquake is huge for the Western Sunda Islands, it is our first experience" of this kind, he added.

- "Destroyed almost 100%" -

In certain sectors of the island, about 4,700 km2 in area, some villages were almost completely destroyed.

"Some of the villages we visited are almost 100% destroyed, all the houses have collapsed, the roads have cracks and the bridges have collapsed," an Indonesian Red Cross spokesman, Arifin Muhammad Hadi, told AFP.

Improvised shelters were installed on the roadsides or in paddies, although many farmers are reluctant to leave their damaged homes or their livestock.

"It is a typical situation of the victims of earthquakes in Indonesia, the inhabitants want to stay close to their source of income, since they can not go to the makeshift shelters with their livestock," Hadi explained.

With the help of the government and international NGOs, local authorities began to organize the delivery of aid to those affected, but rescue teams had difficulty reaching certain areas because the roads were damaged by the earthquake in the north and the East of Lombok, the territories closest to the epicenter.

According to the Indonesian army, three military Hercules transport planes loaded with food, medicines, blankets, tents and water tanks arrived in Lombok.

On the other hand, the authorities indicated that the evacuation of tourists - the majority foreigners - who were on the Gili Islands, off the northwest coast of Lombok and also affected by the earthquake, ended.

More than 4,600 tourists were evacuated from these three small paradisiacal islands, ideal for diving. Others abandoned them on their own, complaining about the lack of coordination of the authorities and the lack of information after the earthquake.

Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands and islets, is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of strong seismic activity. The country is shaken by numerous earthquakes, but unlike what happened in Lombok, most are not dangerous.

AFP

 
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