Death Toll Reaches 105 in Lombok Earthquake as Search for Survivors Continues

PHOTO: The search effort at the mosque ended after dogs failed to find more bodies. (AP: Firdia Lisnawati)

Rescuers in Lombok are pulling people alive from the rubble two days after a devastating earthquake struck the Indonesian island, while thousands left homeless in the worst-affected areas continue to wait for aid to arrive.

Key points:

  • The death toll from the earthquake hits 105 and is expected to rise
  • Two people had been found alive, along with three bodies at the Jabal Nur Mosque
  • At least 4,600 foreign and Indonesian tourists have also been evacuated

The north of Lombok has been devastated by the magnitude-7.0 quake that struck on Sunday night, killing more than 100 people, seriously injuring more than 230 and destroying thousands of buildings.

Among the destroyed structures is the Jabal Nur mosque in Lading-Lading, where soldiers pulled out a man from a space under the mosque’s flattened roof.

Separately, a woman was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed grocery store in the north, near the epicentre of the quake, the second tremor to rock the tropical island in a week.

That was a rare piece of good news as hopes of finding more survivors faded and a humanitarian crisis loomed for thousands left homeless by the disaster in the rural area and in desperate need of clean water, food, medicine and shelter.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman of Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) put the toll at 105, including two on the neighbouring island of Bali to the west, where the quake was also felt. The figure was expected to rise.

Disaster officials did not say how many people they believed were buried beneath the ruins of the mosque but the village head, Budhiawan, said it was about 30, based on unclaimed belongings left outside.

Video shot by a soldier showed rescuers shouting, “Thank God” as the man was recued and then staggered away from the ruins supported by soldiers.

A 66-year-old village elder, Supardi, said a magnitude-6.4 quake that hit Lombok a week earlier had caused countless cracks in the mosque’s walls.

Those were going to be repaired, he said, but people were just getting over the first quake and more than half the village’s 1,500 people were sleeping outside.

Large earthquakes are often followed by less-powerful aftershocks.

“[But] nobody expected a stronger quake would occur in such a short amount of time,” said Supardi, who said he was praying in the mosque when the tremor hit.

By Tuesday evening, the search effort at the mosque ended after dogs failed to find more bodies and no other families reported missing loved ones there, said Anak Agung Alit Supartana, who heads the region’s Search and Rescue Agency office.

Mr Supartana said two people had been found alive, along with three bodies.’

‘We’re forced to deal with broken bones at home’

PHOTO: The earthquake has left thousands homeless as people in the worst-affected areas continue to wait for aid. (AP: Fauzy Chaniago)

A woman with a broken leg was among the people rescued from a mosque, said villager Supri Yono.

“We’re forced to deal with broken bones in the traditional way at home because the hospital had to deal with hundreds of other injuries,” village head Budhiawan said.

But the rescuers and heavy equipment were, “very much needed elsewhere, so we decided to shift the operation” to other locations, Mr Supartana said.

Muhamad Juanda, who narrowly escaped the mosque collapse, said 100 people were praying inside when the earth began to roll. Many got out but dozens were trapped, he said.

“When the earthquake happened, I stopped praying with dozens of other people,” he said.

“I stayed during the first shock, but the shock grew stronger and we rolled around trying to run out.”

Aid organisations, already on Lombok after last week’s quake, said they were stepping up their humanitarian efforts.

Aid efforts were hampered by damage to bridges and roads and a limited amount of rescue equipment and vehicles on the island, he said.

“They have not been touched by any assistance,” Mr Nguroho said.

“Moreover, all shops and stalls there are closed, making the economy totally crippled.”

Stranded tourists camp on beaches, in airport

PHOTO: Many visitors were forced to wait for hours or camp on beaches and the floor of the international airport. (AP: Firdia Lisnawati)

At least 4,600 foreign and Indonesian tourists also have been evacuated from three smaller islands off Lombok’s coast so far, Mr Nugroho said.

The islets are renowned for their crystal clear waters that draw snorkelers and divers from all over the world.

But with not enough boats to evacuate tourists quickly and too few planes to fly them out of Lombok, many visitors were forced to wait for hours or camp on beaches and the floor of the international airport in Mataram.

On the winding roads running north from the airport, which lead to destroyed villages shadowed by tall palm trees, the disaster’s impact was evident.

PHOTO: In the hills, thousands of people are still camping out under makeshift shelters. (ABC News: David Lipson)

Villagers fearing aftershocks could be seen camped by the thousands under makeshift blue tarpaulins held together with bamboo and sticks.

Some held up simple cardboard signs begging for aid as ambulances and other vehicles raced by.

“We need food and water,” said one.

“Please donate,” said another.

International charity Oxfam said drinking water was scarce because of a recent spell of extremely dry weather in Lombok.

Food, medical supplies, tarps and clothes werre also urgently needed, it said.