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Indonesia's Magnitude 7.0 Quake Kills Almost 100 As Death Toll Rises, Officials Say

Ahmad Syamsudin
Jakarta
2018-08-06
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Dewa Wijaya, chief of the Water Police of Lombok, takes his picture in front of hundreds of people attempting to leave the Gili Islands after a powerful earthquake struck nearby Lombok Island, Indonesia, Aug. 6, 2018.
Dewa Wijaya, chief of the Water Police of Lombok, takes his picture in front of hundreds of people attempting to leave the Gili Islands after a powerful earthquake struck nearby Lombok Island, Indonesia, Aug. 6, 2018.
Indonesia Water Police/Handout/via Reuters

Updated at 1:06 p.m. ET on 2018-08-06

At least 98 people were killed and more than 200 injured after a magnitude 7.0 quake struck Indonesia’s Lombok island and rattled neighboring Bali, officials said Monday, while authorities emphasized that the death toll would likely climb as rescuers were still attempting to reach worst-affected areas.

Thousands of homes and buildings were damaged, many completely flattened in Sunday's quake, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.

The quake prompted a tsunami warning but the advisory was lifted about two hours later. Last week, a magnitude 6.4 quake also hit the island and killed 20 people.

“The casualties will most likely increase as the joint search and rescue teams have not reached all areas,” Sutopo told reporters.

Magnitude 7 is classified as a major earthquake, capable of widespread damage, seismologists said.

President Joko Widodo called for more flights to be sent to the affected areas, as social media videos showed tourists running into the streets. He also ordered emergency services to quickly evacuate those with injuries.

"I have also asked the authorities for tourists to be taken care of as best as possible," he told reporters in Jakarta.

Sutopo said a two-story mosque where residents were praying on Sunday collapsed during the earthquake, but rescuers had not been able to retrieve victims.

"There must be casualties but there’s no heavy equipment to retrieve the victims," he said.

The district of North Lombok, which is just east of Bali, was the hardest hit, with at least 72 people killed, Sutopo said.

"Most of the casualties were caused by debris from collapsing buildings," he said.

The epicenter of the shallow quake was at a preliminary depth of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). Depth is a key factor in determining how damaging an earthquake will be, with quakes closer to the surface causing broader destruction, according to the Colorado-based U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The quake also shook buildings on the neighboring island of Bali, another popular tourist destination, and caused some minor damage to its international airport.

The quake has spawned at least 132 aftershocks, USGS said.

Local television footage showed patients, many still hooked to intravenous drips, receiving treatment in hospital grounds on Lombok island, where displaced residents have erected makeshift shelters in open fields.

“Many houses are totally destroyed,” North Lombok district chief Najmul Akhyar told Metro TV.

Hundreds of anxious foreign and domestic tourists have evacuated from the Gili Islands resort off Lombok to the mainland, officials said.

A meeting on counterterrorism to be attended by foreign ministers from Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Myanmar and scheduled for Monday on Lombok had been cancelled, chief security minister Wiranto said.

Widodo said Wiranto, who was already on Lombok, would lead the relief effort.

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who was on the island to attend the counterterrorism conference, tweeted that he was safely evacuated from a hotel in Lombok together with members of his delegation.

“We are not yet aware of the extent of the damage, but thoughts and prayers are with those impacted,” he said.

He later told Fairfax Media that he was on the hotel's 12th floor during the quake, which he described as “powerful enough to put us on the floor.”

Indonesia was the hardest-hit nation on Dec. 26, 2004, when a magnitude 9.1 quake occurred off the west coast of Sumatra, spawning a series of devastating tsunamis in 14 countries and killing more than 227,000 people. The nation is within the so-called Ring of Fire, a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where about 90 percent of earthquakes occur, according to seismologists.

The deadliest earthquake on record took place in Shaanxi province of China on Jan. 23, 1556. It killed 830,000 people, according to USGS.

A damaged home is seen after a powerful earthquake struck Pemenang in North Lombok, Indonesia, Aug. 6, 2018. [Antara Foto/Ahmad Subaidi/via Reuters]
A damaged home is seen after a powerful earthquake struck Pemenang in North Lombok, Indonesia, Aug. 6, 2018. [Antara Foto/Ahmad Subaidi/via Reuters]

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