A 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the northern part of the island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia on Sunday. The earthquake epicenter was 10 km below the sea surface, according to official information. As early as Monday morning, 82 people perished but the number of victims is unfortunately due to rise further.
The earthquake wounded hundreds of locals as well as some tourists, Indonesia National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said early Monday, with thousands of buildings left damaged. Most of the victims died or were wounded due to the collapse of buildings and infrastructure.
The 6.9 magnitude tremor was followed by two further tremors of less amplitude. However, the powerful earthquake triggered panic among tourists and locals on Sunday evening and was also felt on the neighbouring island of Bali, Indonesia’s leading tourist destinations. Bali airport as well as two shopping malls and a temple in Ubud experienced slight damage.
However, traffic was not interrupted at Lombok and Bali international airports as runways were not damaged at both facilities.
National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho added that “the worst affected regions are North Lombok district, East Lombok and Mataram City.”
Rescue officials said much of the damage had hit Lombok’s main city of Mataram. Electricity was cut in large part of the city following the collapse of buildings. The strong earthquake came just a week after a 6.4-magnitude tremor hit Lombok, already killing 17 people and damaging as well hundreds of buildings.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) instructed concerned ministers to immediately address the impacts of 7-magnitude earthquake. The army and marine corps have been already dispatched to the island from Jakarta bringing medical aid to victims.
On Monday the BNPB agency indicated that over 130 aftershock tremors were still being felt by locals which remain mostly in open spaces on the island. The disaster agency is now assessing the full extent of damage across Lombok as well as in Gili islands, three small islands on Lombok’s north-west coast that are popular tourist destinations.
In another development, the BNPB also reported that another group of islands, Mentawai in West Sumatra, had also been shaken by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Sunday afternoon. No tsunami alert was however issued.