The death toll from a strong earthquake that struck Indonesia’s popular tourist island of Lombok has risen to 14, with more than 160 injured, AP reported. Authorities have issued a yellow alert, suggesting there is a chance of casualties. However, no tsunami alert was issued, said Hary Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia’s geophysics and meteorology agency.
The quake hit Lombok island early in the morning at 6.47 am when many people were still sleeping and damaged dozens of single-story houses. Even though tremors were felt in Bali, which is about 200 km away, there was no damage or casualties.
The epicentre was located 50 km north-east of the city of Mataram on the island of Lombok, which has a population of 3,19,000. Around 43 quakes were recorded after the initial 6.4 magnitude tremor. The largest aftershock was recorded at 5.7 magnitude, said Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency.
In East Lombok province and the provincial capital of Mataram, the tremors lasted about 10 seconds, forcing residents to flee their homes onto streets and fields, Reuters quoted Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho as saying. He said about three fatalities and injuries were caused by falling slabs of concrete.
Photos released by the disaster mitigation agency showed damaged houses and the authorities closed the popular Mount Rinjani National Park amid fears of landslides.
“We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads,” The Guardian quoted a tourist, Jean-Paul Volckaert, who was woken by the sudden jolt in Puncak hotel. “We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea. There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds,” he said, adding that there was no damage to the hotel.
Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismic activity hotspot. In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra killed 1,68,000 people in Indonesia.