News World New tremor as Lombok rescuers step up hunt for survivors

New tremor as Lombok rescuers step up hunt for survivors

Recovery efforts are intensifying in Lombok, but the death toll from the quake is mounting. Photo: Getty
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Another strong earthquake has hit Lombok as rescuers step up the hunt for survivors buried in the rubble of earlier quakes.

The latest quake had a magnitude of 6.2 according to Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency. 

Meanwhile, the national disaster agency has stood by its latest death toll of 131 from Sunday’s quake, despite other government agencies – including the military – reporting much higher figures.

The governor of the province that includes Lombok, the military and the national search and rescue agency issued different death tolls that ranged from 226 to 381.

But disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Wednesday the information from those sources was incomplete and had not been cross-checked for duplication.

He has said several times that the number of deaths will increase.

An inter-agency meeting will be held on Thursday to compare information, Mr Nugroho said.

As the aid effort stepped up, volunteers and rescue personnel erected more temporary shelters for the tens of thousands left homeless on Lombok by the magnitude 7.0 quake.

Water, which has been in short supply due to a prolonged dry spell on the island, as well as food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks. The military said it sent five planes carrying food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers.

Nearly 1500 people are in hospital with serious injuries and more than 156,000 have been displaced due to the extensive damage to thousands of homes. Thousands of people have been sleeping in makeshift shelters or out in the open.

At a collapsed mosque in Bangsal district, emergency workers in orange uniforms removed a woman’s body from the ruins on Wednesday morning. A green and yellow dome rested on the pile of rubble, the only part of the structure still intact.

A woman and her son inspect the ruins of their house on Lombok Island. Photo: Getty

Authorities said all the tourists who wanted to be evacuated from three outlying holiday islands due to power blackouts and damage to hotels had left by boat, some 5000 people in all.

The quake was the second in a week to hit Lombok. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake on July 29 killed 16 people and cracked and weakened many structures, amplifying the damage that occurred in Sunday’s quake.

Like its famous neighbour Bali, Lombok is known for beaches, mountains and a lush interior. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.