Indonesia natural disaster death toll climbs anew as aid reaches remote areas


The powerful quake killed at least 91 people and damaged thousands of buildings in Lombok.

With not enough boats to evacuate tourists quickly and too few planes to fly them out of Lombok, many visitors were forced to wait for hours or camp on beaches and on the floor of the worldwide airport in Mataram.

About 90 personnel from the military, police and national search and rescue agency swarmed around the flattened building on Tuesday, using cutting equipment to pry apart the tangled debris.

Camera IconA man inspects the ruins of houses at a village affected by Sunday's quake in Kayangan, Lombok Island, Indonesia, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.

"I was in sheer panic, we all were", Montgomery-Lay, 41, told The Canadian Press on Monday from her hotel, adding that she and her family were not injured in the quake.

Priva Bell, the Indonesia Response Team Coordinator at Mercy Corps, told Euronews: "We already know that many people have lost access to water, and are in need of shelter".

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Officials said that almost 8,400 tourists and resort workers had been evacuated from the three Gili islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, where two people died, emptying out a destination popular for its white beaches and turquoise waters.

Worldwide charity Oxfam said drinking water was scarce because of a recent spell of extremely dry weather in Lombok.

Michelle Thompson, an American holidaying on one of the Gilis, described a scramble to get on boats leaving for the main island during which her husband was injured.

Concerns had been raised for around 20 people on the island of Gili but they have since been located.

There were fears the death toll would rise as workers with heavy machinery shifted rubble at a collapsed mosque.

Some 4,600 tourists have been evacuated from the Gili Islands, three tiny, coral-fringed tropical islands popular with backpackers and divers.

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Injured victims rest at a makeshift hospital in Pemenang, the day after a 6.9 magnitude natural disaster struck the area. Nugroho said authorities had deployed three ships to evacuate people who were packed on the 16-square-kilometre beach.

"People were just throwing their suitcases on board and I had to struggle to get my husband on, because he was bleeding", she said. "All the locals were frantically running and screaming, putting on lifejackets". Authorities said an earlier toll of seven dead was incorrect.

"The efforts to evacuate people have been intensified, but there are still a lot of problems on the ground", Mr Sutopo said. The tsunami warning was eventually lifted.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains.

The Bali and Lombok airports have remained open. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

That's because the region sits smack-dab along the so-called ring of fire-an imaginary, horseshoe-shape line that follows the rim of the Pacific Ocean and marks spots where several tectonic plates collide. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 natural disaster off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

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