Death toll in devastating Indonesian quake rises to 345 overnight

Leroy Wright
August 9, 2018

A magnitude 6.2 natural disaster rocked Indonesia's Lombok on Thursday, with witnesses reporting collapsed buildings, the latest in a series of tremors on the tropical tourist island that have killed more than 150 people in the past two weeks.

It is the third big quake to hit Lombok in little over a week.

The powerful 6.9-magnitude quake that struck the island of Lombok has left more than 130 people dead and displaced thousands.

The Indonesian Red Cross said it had set up 10 mobile clinics in the north of the island.

"The natural disaster does not have any tsunami potential", Hary Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia's meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG), said of Thursday's aftershock.

The US Geological Survey has measured it at magnitude 5.8.

Reuters witnesses reporting on the aftermath of last Sunday's quake in the north of the island said people ran out onto roads in panic and some buildings collapsed.

The new tremor hit off the north-west coast of Lombok, sending people running into the streets in panic.

It was the strongest of some 355 aftershocks that have rattled the island since Sunday, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

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Officials and organisations including the military, the governor of the province that includes Lombok, the national search and rescue agency and the regent of North Lombok have issued different death tolls, ranging from 226 to 381.

Tens of thousands of homes, businesses and mosques were levelled by the quake, which struck on Sunday as evening prayers were being said across the Muslim-majority island.

Cleanup and rescue efforts are still continuing on the island, following the previous quakes. He says the agency has sent 20 water trucks to five remote areas, including one village of about 1,200 households.

He said they were also looking for people with untreated injuries.

Displaced residents living in shelters rushed out of their temporary homes, fearing more destruction to structures already weakened from the previous two quakes.

One aid agency, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia, has warned that thousands of children have been left homeless, forced to sleep in open fields without warm clothing or blankets.

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.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of thousands of tourists from the Gili Islands - three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands off the northwest coast of Lombok - has finished, officials said.

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