Tourists flee Lombok as Indonesian quake death toll hits 98


Rescuers are still struggling to get to parts of Lombok island to assess the full extent of the damage from the earthquake. Video: Al Jazeera

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Tourists have been fleeing the Indonesian island of Lombok since yesterday after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake killed at least 98 people – a death toll expected to rise, reports Al Jazeera.

More than 200 people were seriously injured in Sunday’s shallow quake as rescue workers scrambled to reach survivors in remote areas.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the damage was “massive” in northern Lombok. In several districts, more than half of homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the Lombok earthquake

Al Jazeera reports Nugroho saying the death toll will “definitely increase”, adding more than 20,000 people had been displaced.

Thousands of buildings collapsed, especially in the north, near the earthquake’s epicentre, and power and communications were down in some areas on the popular tourist island.

A tsunami alert was issued immediately after the quake struck, sending panicked people running to higher ground, but it was later rescinded, Al Jazeera reports.

“When it happened, we stood with residents in the middle of the street and watched houses collapse around us,” said Yustrianda Sirio, who was visiting the island.

‘Screamed hysterically’
“Many of us screamed hysterically.”

Some airlines have added extra flights to help tourists leave the island, while about 1200 foreign and domestic tourists were evacuated by boat from three Gili islands off Lombok’s northwest coast, said Nugroho.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Tanjung in northern Lombok (see video), said: “The destruction here is unbelievable.

“After there was a tsunami alert yesterday, a lot of [tourists] panicked; they climbed into trees, they ran into the hills, a lot of people got injured there,” she said.

“There’s no arrangement, there’s no transport, there’s no food, there’s no water for them, so a lot of them are completely lost, they’re completely confused, still scared and the only thing they’re telling me is that they want to leave the country as soon as possible.”

The Indonesian military said it was sending a vessel with medical aid and supplies and would provide logistical support.

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