Death Toll In Lombok Rises Over 300 As Aftershock Hits
The Indonesian island of Lombok has been shaken by a third big earthquake in little more than a week as the official death toll from the most powerful of the quakes reached 319.
Thursday's strong aftershock, measured at magnitude 5.9 by the US Geological Survey, caused panic, damage to buildings, landslides and injuries.
It was centred in the northwest of the island and didn't have the potential to cause a tsunami, said Indonesia's geological agency, which had earlier put its magnitude at 6.2.
Videos showed rubble strewn across streets and clouds of dust enveloping buildings.
In northern Lombok, some people leapt from their vehicles on a traffic jammed road while an elderly woman standing in the back of a pickup truck wailed "God is Great."
An Associated Press reporter in the provincial capital Mataram saw people injured by the tremor and a hospital moved patients outside.
The aftershock had caused more "trauma," said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Wiranto, Indonesia's top security minister, told reporters the death toll from Sunday's magnitude 6.9 quake had risen to 319.
The announcement came after an inter-agency meeting was called to resolve wildly different figures from different agencies.
"We are taking action as fast as we can to handle this disaster," he said.
Grieving relatives were burying their dead and medics tended to people whose broken limbs hadn't yet been treated in the days since the quake.
The Red Cross said it was focusing relief efforts on an estimated 20,000 people yet to get any assistance.
In Kopang Daya village in the hard-hit Tanjung district of north Lombok, a distraught family was burying their 13-year-old daughter who was struck by a collapsing wall and then trampled when the quake on Sunday caused a stampede at her Islamic boarding school.
Villagers and relatives prayed outside a tent where the girl's body lay inside covered in a white cloth.
"She was praying when the earthquake happened," said her uncle Tarna, who gave a single name.
"She was trying to get out, but she got hit by a wall and fell down. Children were running out from the building in panic and she was stepped on by her friends," he said.
Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed in Sunday's quake and more than 150,000 people are homeless. The earlier earthquakes also left cracks in walls and roofs, making the weakened buildings susceptible to collapse.
In Kopang Daya, injured villagers got their first proper treatment Thursday after medics arrived with a portable X-ray and other supplies.
A July 29 quake on Lombok killed 16 people.
Wiranto, who goes by one name, said the government will develop a plan to rebuild communities on Lombok, which like its more famous neighbour Bali is a popular tourist destination.