Dozens of people dead after powerful earthquake strikes Indonesia

The death toll from a magnitude 7.0 quake to hit Indonesia’s tourist island of Lombok has risen to 82 with thousands of people evacuated, disaster officials say.

The powerful quake has come exactly one week after another deadly tremor hit the island triggering panic among tourists and residents and was also felt on neighbouring holiday island Bali.

On Lombok, thousands have fled from their homes to gather in the safety of open spaces.

Disaster officials say the death toll has now risen to 82, from the 32 earlier reported, Reuters say.

The highest number of casualties was in North Lombok district where 29 people died, Muhammad Rum – the head of West Nusa Tenggara province’s disaster management agency – told broadcaster Metro TV.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck on the popular tourist island of Lombok. Source: AP
Indonesian soldiers tend to a woman injured in the earthquake at a makeshift hospital in Lombok. Source: AP

Fatalities were also reported in Mataram, the island’s main city, and districts of East Lombok, Central Lombok and South Lombok.

Mr Rum said most of the deaths were caused by falling debris, German news agency DPA reported.

Indonesia is currently hosting two ministerial-level conferences on regional security and counterterrorism with Australia in Bali and Lombok.

Earthquake knocks Dutton ‘to the floor’

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says he was  “very lucky” to escape a deadly earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok unharmed.

The senior MP was dining at a restaurant on the 12th floor of a hotel when the magnitude-7 quake struck.

“We were knocked certainly to the floor,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday.

“It was a pretty violent shaking and swaying of the building. It went on for … a minute or so.

“The main thing is all the Australian delegation is safe and well.”

Debris on top of crushed motorcycles after the earthquake tremors hit Bali. Source: AP

Chief security minister Wiranto – who is in Lombok with his regional counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, Australia and Myanmar – said a meeting on counter-terrorism, which was set to be held on Monday, had been cancelled.

Singapore Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was in the Lombok town of Mataram at the time of the quake, wrote on Facebook his 10th-floor hotel room shook violently and walls cracked.

“It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams,” he wrote.

“Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking. Power went out for a while. Lots of cracks, fallen doors.”

It came a week after a 6.4-magnitude quake killed 14 people on the island and briefly stranded hundreds of hikers on the slopes of a volcano.

Most of Lombok suffered power cuts, local media reported.

Travellers thrown into panic

A person evacuated to the parking lot outside the Mataram City hospital with other patients. Source: Reuters

Travellers at the international airports in Lombok and Bali were thrown into panic and there was minor damage to the buildings, but operations were not disrupted, officials said.

The quake was felt for several seconds in Bali, where people ran out of houses, hotels, and restaurants.

“All the hotel guests were running, so I did too. People filled the streets,” Australian tourist Michelle Lindsay said.

“A lot of officials were urging people not to panic.”

Other witnesses said the initial quake grew in intensity over several seconds, rattling windows and doors, and there were many aftershocks.

The powerful quake triggered panic among tourists and residents, and was also felt on the neighbouring holiday island of Bali. Source: Reuters

The country’s disaster management agency urged people to stay away from the sea.

However, an initial warning of a tsunami with waves of up to half a metre was later withdrawn.

Saffron Amis, a British student visiting the Gili Islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, told Reuters by text message that dozens of tourists were evacuated to a hill after the quake.

AirAsia confirmed flights to and from Lombok and Bali were operating normally following the earthquake.

Earthquake triggers tsunami warning

The US Geological Survey said the quake triggered a brief earthquake

The latest quake also triggered a brief tsunami warning, damaging buildings as far away as Denpasar on Bali, including a department store and the airport terminal, where ceiling panels were shaken loose, authorities said.

The tsunami warning was lifted after waves just 15 centimetres (6 inches) high were recorded in three villages, said Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific “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 island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.