A powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake has struck the popular Indonesian tourist destination of Lombok, killing 13 people and injuring hundreds, the country’s disaster mitigation agency says.
The quake damaged dozens of single-story houses and taller buildings and was felt in a wider area, including in Bali, where no damage or casualties were reported. It hit the northern part of Lombok island early on Sunday morning when many people were still sleeping. “We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads,” said Jean-Paul Volckaert, who was woken by the quake while sleeping in the Puncak Hotel near Senggigi on Lombok. “I’ve been walking around but so far there is no damage. 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 via telephone. “The people in the villages may have damages. It’s still early morning here.” The quake, which was quickly followed by an aftershock of magnitude-5.4 in the same area, was centered 50 kilometers north-east of the city of Mataram, the US Geological Survey said. Disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the number of casualties could increase as information is still being collected from across the island. He said the East Lombok district was the hardest hit with 10 deaths, including 30-year-old Malaysian national Isma Wida. Ten people in the district also suffered major injuries, another 10 people had minor injuries and dozens of houses were damaged, Mr. Nugroho said. In a further update on Twitter, he said three people died in North Lombok and 637 were injured or affected. Mr. Nugroho said most of the fatalities and injuries were caused by falling slabs of concrete. In a short statement to the Top stories online, the Australian Consulate General in Bali confirmed that no Australians are believed to be among those affected at this stage. The Consulate General said it has been in contact with local authorities and are monitoring the situation closely. Earlier, Mr. Nugroho tweeted pictures of houses with collapsed roofs and walls. Authorities are searching collapsed homes looking for more victims. Mr. Nugroho said the earthquake also triggered a large landslide from Mount Rinjani, a popular trekking destination. “Rinjani mountain climbing is closed temporarily because there is an indication of landslide around the mountain,” Mr. Nugroho said in a statement. Local news Metro TV reported that people were still sleeping when the first quake hit and they quickly fled their houses in panic. Most of the people were still waiting outside their houses in fear of aftershocks, Metro TV said.
Shallow depth amplified the effect
The earthquake struck at 6:47 am on Sunday (local time) and was only 10 kilometers deep, a shallow depth that would have amplified its effect. According to Mr. Nugroho, the initial earthquake lasted for just 10 seconds. The second struck less than an hour later. A magnitude 6.4-earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the European quake agency, put the magnitude at 6.5. The earthquake was on land and did not trigger any waves or tsunami. Lombok is the next island east of Bali. Quakes are common in Indonesia, which is located on the seismically active “Ring of Fire” that surrounds the shores of the Pacific Ocean.