Powerful quake kills 14 on Indonesia’s Lombok island

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At least 14 people were killed and more than 160 injured after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia‘s Lombok island.

Sunday morning’s tremor was followed by two strong secondary quakes and more than 60 aftershocks, damaging more than a thousand buildings. The earthquake – at a depth of seven kilometres – was on land and did not trigger a tsunami.

Many people were hurt after being hit by falling debris from damaged buildings. Sixty-seven were hospitalised with serious injuries.

“It happened so suddenly at around six in the morning. Suddenly everything simply collapsed,” said Siti Sumarni, a resident of Sembalun, the worst-hit area. “My child was inside the house, thankfully he survived.”

Standing outside a green tent set up on a dusty field, she said nothing was left of her house.

Indonesia is frequently hit by quakes [Nusa Tenggara Barat Disaster Mitigation Agency/AFP]

The jolt was felt about 100km away on the island of Bali, although there were no immediate reports of damage there.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, said the main focus now is “evacuation and rescue”.

“The most pressing needs now are medical personnel, stretchers, health equipment, kids wares and food,” said Nugroho.

The quake also triggered a large landslide on Mount Rinjani, a remote area that offers popular trekking trails. Authorities were monitoring its impact.

“Residents refused to enter their houses as prolonged aftershocks are still being felt,” said Eka Fathurrahman, the police chief in East Lombok.

An emergency tent was set up on a street in Sembalun to treat the injured because the local hospital was damaged, and those in a critical condition were taken to other hospitals.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

The epicentre of the shallow earthquake struck 50km northeast of Lombok’s main city Mataram, the US Geological Survey said, far from the main tourist spots on the south and west of the island.

Two of the aftershocks measured more than five magnitude.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the European quake agency, put the magnitude at 6.5.

The quake did not trigger a tsunami alert [Nusa Tenggara Barat Disaster Mitigation Agency/AFP]

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismic activity hotspot.

It is frequently hit by quakes, most of them harmless. However, the region remains acutely alert to temblors that might trigger tsunamis.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, in western Indonesia, killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

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