Rescue workers found chaos and destruction across the Indonesian resort island of Lombok today after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake killed at least 91 people and prompted an exodus of tourists rattled by the second powerful quake in a week.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said the death toll was expected to rise as information came in from areas where thousands of buildings collapsed or were badly damaged, especially in the north, the quake’s epicenter.
Power and communications were cut in some areas of Lombok, and the military said it was sending in a vessel with medical aid, supplies and logistical support for the island.
The Indonesian Red Cross said in a Tweet that it helped a woman give birth after the quake at a health post in the north. One of the names she gave the baby boy was ‘Gempa’, which means earthquake.
Lombok was hit a week earlier, on July 29, by a 6.4 magnitude quake that killed 17 people, injured hundreds and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.
The Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) said that more than 120 aftershocks were recorded after Sunday evening’s quake, whose magnitude the US Geological Survey revised down to 6.9 from an original 7.0.
There were no foreigners among the dead and the number of injured stood at 209, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference.
The tremor was so powerful it was felt on the neighboring island of Bali where, according to BNPB, two people died.
Indonesia sits on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.
Long lines formed at the airport of Lombok’s main town, Mataram, as foreign visitors cut their holidays short.
The Garuda Indonesia airline said it was adding extra flights from Lombok to help tourists leave.
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted that the budget airline would try to lay on extra flights, while Indonesian budget carriers Lion Air and Citilink said there had been a jump in demand for outbound flights from Lombok and Bali.
“I was at the rooftop of my hotel and the building started swaying very hard. It felt like two meters to the left, then two meters to the right, I could not stand up,” said Gino Poggiali, a 43-year-old Frenchman, who was with his wife and two children, at the Lombok airport.
His wife Maude, 44, said the family were on Bali for the first quake and Lombok for the second.