Death toll in Lombok quake hits 131, over 156000 displaced

People affected by the earthquake rest at a temporary shelter in Lombok Indonesia Sunday Aug. 5 2018. —AP

A Dunedin couple were among the thousands of tourists caught up in the confusion and panic as they waited to be evacuated from a small island near the coast of Lombok, after the powerful 6.9-magnitude natural disaster struck on Sunday.

The authorities have appealed for more medical personnel and basic supplies.

A man who narrowly escaped from the Jabal Nur mosque that collapsed during an natural disaster in Lombok on Sunday evening says there were about 100 people praying inside when the quake struck and though many got out, dozens were buried in the rubble.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Wednesday more than 156,003 refugees had been created by the quake, a day after admitting assistance had not reached all because of road closures, and markets and shops standing empty.

"The number of victims keep rising", BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters on Wednesday. Thousands of homes and buildings were damaged and those displaced camped wherever they could - in sports fields and on roadsides, cobbling together ramshackle shelters and building campfires for warmth.

'He just said "wait, wait" - I was so anxious we would be stranded but I kept pulling his leg and he said "I promise I will help you". "People were literally fighting and pulling on each other to get on the boat and throwing them into the water", she said, adding how some locals were even trying to charge tourists to take them to the main land.

While many tourists are flooding Indonesia's ferry terminals and airports in the hopes of finding a way back home, Montgomery-Lay and her husband are concerned about the effect it would have on their daughter, who has cancer. "Clean drinking water is scarce due to the extremely dry weather". Tens of thousands were left homeless when the ground shook for the second time in two weeks.

Thousands of tourists have left Lombok since Sunday fearing further earthquakes.

"We will tear down our houses, they are too damaged to fix, we will rebuild with plywood and timber, it is safer, cheaper and warmer".

Six days earlier, a 6.4-magnitude quake killed 16 people and weakened many structures.

"We've had light earthquakes in the past, but never anything like this", said Marcel De Rijk, owner of Lombok boutique hotel chain Puri Mas Resort, whose beachside hotel and villas will stay closed until September for repairs.

"We don't know for sure how many people are alive under the rubble", said Mr Nugroho.

According to Caruso, even though the Lombok quake occurred on land, it struck right along the coastline, where subsequent landslides into the sea could trigger tsunamis.

Lombok, which is located east of Bali and makes up part of the Lesser Sunda Island chain, is a popular tourist destination known for mountains, beaches and surf.

A mother bath her daughter in a bucket after their home in Sembalun Bumbung was destroyed by the Lombok natural disaster.

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

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