News World Family’s quake terror as thousands of tourists stuck in Lombok

Family’s quake terror as thousands of tourists stuck in Lombok

lombok quake
Stranded passengers wait at Lombok's Praya International Airport. Photo: AAP
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A Perth family has told of their narrow escape from an earthquake, as thousands of tourists are still trying to flee the Indonesian island of Lombok after Sunday’s magnitude 6.9 earthquake.

Lombok’s airport is overwhelmed with people waiting for flights out as aftershocks continue to rattle the area.

At least 98 people are confirmed dead and at least 209 injured following Sunday’s earthquake. There is widespread property damage and many people have been left homeless or too afraid to return to their homes.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) expects the death toll to rise once the rubble of more than 13,000 houses is cleared.

Perth couple Gillian and Michael Harvey, who are a couple of months into a year-long break with their daughters Sophie, 4, and Chloe, 1, had just arrived on the small resort island of Gili Trawangan when Sunday’s quake hit.

“Thank goodness we were on the beach away from the falling buildings when the earthquake struck,” Ms Harvey wrote on Instagram.

“We climbed to the highest point on the land with our life jackets on when the tsunami warning was triggered, and slept on top of the mountain with a sheet covering us – not knowing what was going to happen as every few minutes it would shake with an aftershock.”

family instagram
The Harvey family were forced to flee the quake. Photo: Instagram

The next day the family waited for hours in the sun with thousands of others trying to flee Trawangan, off the north-west of Lombok. Ms Harvey told the ABC she begged a ferry staff member to take them on a boat to Lombok.

“Every few minutes I kept begging him, saying ‘please take the baby, she is scared’, he said ‘wait, wait’ again,” she said.

“After about 30 minutes in the heat and so much pushing – the baby was roasted as she was strapped to me – I asked again and he said: ‘I promise I will help you’.

“Those words will never leave me, I was crying with relief.”

The Harvey family is now back in Bali.

But thousands of other holiday-makers remain stranded. Senggigi resort manager Evan Burns told AAP he thought 70 per cent of his guests had made their way to the airport but were stuck there, with flights unable to cope with the mass exodus.

When the first quake struck, Mr Burns and his wife fled three kilometres with their toddler son up a nearby mountain, fearing a tsunami.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reconfirmed on Tuesday there had been no reports of Australians killed or injured in the earthquakes.

“We are working closely with the Indonesian authorities to provide whatever assistance we can,” Ms Bishop told Channel Nine.

“There are many who want to be evacuated, so allow the authorities to do that.”

Australian consular staff are working alongside Indonesian authorities to ensure holiday-makers are safely evacuated.

Other Australians have told of running for their lives, including resort manager Evan Burns who fled three kilometres with his wife and toddler son up a nearby mountain, fearing a tsunami.

“The force was so severe that it threw us out of bed, and the walls immediately started cracking,” he said.

Power and communications have been severed in places, with landslides and a fallen bridge blocking access to areas around the epicentre in Lombok’s north.

The Indonesian military has said it will send a ship with medical aid, supplies and logistics support. Jakarta Animal Aid has also promised to send trucks laden with supplies.

Officials said more than 2000 people had been evacuated from the Gili islands. BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hospital emergency units were overflowing and some patients were being treated in car parks.

The main hospital in the town of Tanjung in the north was severely damaged, so staff set up about 30 beds in the shade of trees and in a tent on a field to tend to the injured.

Lombok had already been hit on July 29 by a 6.4 magnitude quake that killed 17 people and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.

The tremor of Sunday’s quake was powerful enough to be felt on the neighbouring island of Bali where, BNPB said, two people died.

The Indonesian Red Cross said on Twitter it had helped a woman give birth at a makeshift health care station after the quake.

One of the names she gave the baby boy was “Gempa”, which means earthquake.

-with AAP

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