Over 270,000 displaced as Lombok quake death toll jumps

The death toll from a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in Indonesia’s Lombok island rises to at least 321.

Lombok earthquake
More than a quarter of a million were displaced by a series of earthquakes on Indonesia's Lombok [Beawiharta/Reuters]

The death toll from a devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia’s Lombok island has risen to at least 321, according to officials.

In a statement issued on Friday, the country’s disaster mitigation agency said that more than 270,000 people had been displaced and 1,033 were hospitalised with injuries due to a series of tremors that struck the island of 3.3 million people in the past two weeks. 

Nearly three-quarters of residential structures in North Lombok had been destroyed, Sutopo Nugroho, the agency’s spokesperson, said.

On Thursday, a third strong earthquake in two weeks’ time hit Lombok, a popular tourist destination.

The magnitude-6.2 earthquake followed Sunday’s magnitude-6.9 tremor, which came a week after a magnitude-6.4 quake killed at least 17. 

In the statement, Nugroho said that after several days of delays, mobile kitchens have started distributing food and water to thousands of evacuees in the worst-hit areas.

“Aid is being distributed as quickly as possible upon arrival,” he said, adding that hundreds of volunteers were helping. 

On Thursday, he posted a video on Twitter which showed the collapse of a supermarket. 

Fears over continuing aftershocks persist in Lombok, with 450 having been registered since Sunday. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday said he was delaying a visit to Lombok.

“After the emergency period is over the government will undertake rehabilitation, reconstruction, repairs to residential areas and public facilities,” the cabinet secretariat website quoted Widodo as saying. 

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra Island triggered a massive tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies