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Earthquake death toll surpasses 300

China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-10 07:36

Aftershocks rock Lombok as 20,000 people have not received assistance

MATARAM, Indonesia - The death toll from a shallow magnitude 6.9 earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok has surged above 300, a senior minister said on Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.

"The latest update is that 319 people died," said Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

A strong aftershock on Thursday, measured at magnitude 5.9 by the US Geological Survey, caused panic and damage. It was centered in the northeast of the island and didn't have the potential to cause a tsunami, Indonesia's geological agency said.

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

Videos showed rubble strewed across streets and clouds of dust enveloping buildings. In northern Lombok, some people leapt from their vehicles on traffic-jammed roads while an elderly woman standing in the back of a pickup truck wailed "God is Great". The aftershock had caused more "trauma", said Nugroho.

A woman wearing a motorbike helmet was seen crying with her two daughters in her arms.

"We were stuck in the traffic while delivering aid, suddenly it felt like our car was hit from behind, it was so strong," witness Sri Laksmi told AFP.

"People in the street began to panic and got out of their cars, they ran in different directions in the middle of the traffic."

The aftershock comes just four days after the devastating magnitude 6.9 quake struck Lombok, which relief agencies said had wiped out entire villages in the worst-hit regions in the north and west.

Grieving relatives were burying their dead and medics tended to people whose broken limbs hadn't yet been treated in the days since Sunday's quake.

The Red Cross said it was focusing relief efforts on an estimated 20,000 people yet to get any assistance.

Collapsed mosques

Local authorities, international relief groups and the central government have begun organizing aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north of Lombok, which bore the brunt of the quake.

Aid begun trickling into some of the most isolated regions, officials said midday on Thursday, but many people displaced by the quake still lack basic supplies.

In some parts of northern Lombok, survivors could be seen standing on the road with cardboard boxes asking for donations and food.

"We are still waiting for assessments from some of the more remote areas in the north of the island, but it is already clear that Sunday's earthquake was exceptionally destructive," Christopher Rassi, the head of a Red Cross assessment team on Lombok, said in a statement.

"I visited villages yesterday that were completely collapsed."

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

There are fears that two collapsed mosques in north Lombok had been filled with worshippers.

Rescuers have found three bodies and also managed to pull one man alive from the twisted wreckage of one mosque in Lading Lading village, while at least one body has been spotted under the rubble in Pemenang.

Evacuees in some encampments say they are running out of food, while others are suffering psychological trauma after the powerful quake, which struck just one week after another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

There is a dire need for medical staff and "long-term aid", especially food and medicine in the worst-hit areas, government officials said.

Afp - Ap

(China Daily 08/10/2018 page11)

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