The death toll from a series of earthquakes on and around the eastern Indonesia island of Lombok has risen to 387, with authorities expecting that number to increase in the coming days.
According to National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Nugroho more than 387,000 people have been displaced and some 13,600 injured.
Over the past week more than 520 aftershocks have been recorded with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) recording 31 earthquakes on or close to the island of Lombok — more than 20 at a magnitude of 4.5 or above on the Richter scale — since a 6.4 quake struck off the northern tip of the island on July 29 (local time).
While the financial cost of the quakes has not yet been calculated Mr Nugroho said losses were likely to exceed Rp2 trillion (about $138 million), with figures released overnight by the BNPB showing 68,000 houses, 468 schools, six bridges and three hospitals among the infrastructure damaged or destroyed by the quakes.
Indonesia’s poor level of disaster preparedness is also coming to the fore. Mr Nugroho yesterday admitted that not all people affected by the quakes have received government aid due to access being blocked. Basic survival kits and items such as tents, blankets, instant noodles, and drinking water are still urgently needed, he said.
While no earthquakes were recorded on Saturday (Aug 11), local officials report constant trembling and rumblings underfoot. On Friday (Aug 10) a quake measuring 4.8 struck during the night, following a 4.6 trembler in the early hours of Friday morning (local time) and a solid 5.9 jolt just prior to lunch time (local time) on August 9.
After the first big earthquake on July 29 West Nusa Tenggara Provincial Disaster Mitigation Board (BPBD) estimated damage at more than Rp1 trillion (about US$69846 million). Contacted on Friday BPBD head Muhammad Rum said the continuing mid and large quakes and increasing damage meant it was too early to determine a sensible final figure. “It’s going to be very high, even without taking into account losses from tourism and other trade”, he said.
Rescuers say efforts to reach those worst affected are being hampered by poor road conditions, with many bridges damaged or destroyed and roads blocked by landslides.
Muhammad Zainul Majdi, Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, said medical staff, food, and medicine were desperately needed in the worst-hit areas.
Satellite imagery shows some 75 per cent of villages have been destroyed in North Lombok, while scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the California Institute of Technology (CIT) in the US have found that land along the fault line experiencing the tectonic plate movement in the north of the island has risen by a quarter of a metre (about 9.8 inches) in some places, and dropped by 5 to 15 centimetres (2-6 inches) in others.
Heavily reliant on tourism, the owners of businesses in the Lombok tourism sector see the destruction and death caused by this current serious of quakes as bringing what was promising to be a bumper year to an end.
Speaking with Reuters, Marcel De Rijk, owner of Lombok boutique hotel chain Puri Mas Resort said, “I don’t think people will choose Lombok any more this summer”.
“We’ve had light earthquakes in the past, but never anything like this. We’ve lost a lot of bookings and future guests are in wait-and-see mode”, he said.
In 2002 after the Bali bombings which killed more than 200 people it was more than six months before any tourists returned to ‘the Gili’s’, and 12 months more before tourism numbers returned to what they were prior to the blasts.
Acknowledging that relief aid was now flowing onto the island from various regional and national government agencies, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said “we still need long-term aid”.
Lombok holiday islands hard hit by quakes
On the tourist island of Gili Trawangan at least eight people have been reported killed with about 30 per cent of buildings reportedly destroyed and another 40 per cent damaged. There has also been reports of looting.
On Gili Air, the most populated of the three gilis (islands) about 70 per cent of resorts have been damaged, along with many homes in the centre of the island.
Lombok was recently one of ten destinations dubbed “the new Balis” as part of an ambitious plan by President Joko Widodo to boost the underperforming Indonesia tourism industry. In 2017 the Indonesia tourism sector contributed less than two per cent to the country’s GDP, a figure Mr Widodo hopes to boost to 8 per cent.
In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Originally published as Deadly earthquakes continue to shake Lombok, gilis and updated at 18:22 on August 12, 2018.
Feature video CGTN
- Strong quake again hits Indonesia’s Lombok island (Aljazeera)
- Another strong quake hits Indonesia’s Lombok, witnesses say buildings have collapsed (ABC News)
- Lombok earthquake leaves idyllic Gili islands facing uncertain future (The Guardian)
- Lombok earthquake video special – 30 quakes rock island in 10 days (AEC News Today)