Poor equipment hampers Lombok rescue

About 20,000 people have been moved to unaffected areas of the Indonesian island of Lombok since the 6.9-magnitude quake on Sunday left 98 dead, including two on the neighbouring island of Bali.

The death toll continues to rise.

Ships were sent to evacuate about 2,000 visitors from the adjacent Gili islands.

The quake left thousands of buildings and power lines damaged amid ongoing tremors, with 230 aftershocks recorded by the authorities.

The earthquake, which was measured at a magnitude of 7.0 by the Indonesian authorities and 6.9 by the US Geological Survey, struck early on Sunday evening at a depth of 10km in the northern part of Lombok.

Another quake that hit Lombok last week killed 16 people and weakened numerous buildings.

Relief efforts have focused on a collapsed mosque close to the epicentre in northern Lombok where rescuers are still pulling people alive from the rubble.

The village mosque in Lading-Lading collapsed during evening prayers when around 40 people were thought to have been inside.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted: “Praise God there are still victims that can be rescued from the collapsed mosque rocked by the earthquake … Hopefully, a lot more can be saved.”

Rescue efforts have been hampered by power outages, disrupted phone signals, broken bridges and split roads.

Teams have also struggled to reach possible survivors due to a lack of equipment.

Riduan, 45, whose house in Karangkauhan on Lombok was partially destroyed, said he had received no aid and had to buy food.

“We don’t get anything,” he said.

Najmul Akhyar, the North Lombok district chief, estimated that 80 per cent of the region had been damaged. Nugroho told the media: “We expect the number of fatalities to keep rising. All victims who died are Indonesians.”

Search teams rescued between 2,000 and 2,700 tourists from the three Gili islands, which are surrounded by coral reefs, off the northwest coast of Lombok. Videos show hundreds of tourists and islanders crowding on to white beaches awaiting evacuation.

A state of emergency was declared in Lombok until August 11.

Aid agencies said the priority was to provide shelter for islanders but many are reportedly too scared to return to their homes.

President Joko Widodo demanded the evacuation of casualties, calling for more flights to be sent to Lombok.

The three Gili islands are popular snorkelling destinations. Picture credit: Wikimedia