Ten people have died in a strong earthquake on Lombok that set off a series of mudslides, cut power across the Indonesian island and damaged more than 150 homes as the community tries to recover from quakes this month that killed more than 450 people.
The shallow magnitude-6.9 quake that hit just after 10pm local time on Sunday was one of multiple powerful earthquakes in the north-east of the island that also caused landslides. It was preceded by a 6.3-magnitude quake in the afternoon and then followed by strong aftershocks. Six of the dead were in the neighbouring island of Sumbawa. The area has suffered more than 100 aftershocks since Sunday night.
The quakes, in the Sembalun district in the north-east of the island, caused panic, but many people were already staying in tents following the deadly quake earlier this month.
The national disaster mitigation agency said power was cut across the island, hampering efforts to assess the situation. Some houses and other buildings in Sembalun had collapsed, it said.
“People panicked and scattered,” said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. “Some people are hysterical because they feel earthquake aftershocks that are harder than before. They heard a roar that probably came from landslides in the hills and Mount Rinjani.”
Dwikorita Karnawatim, who heads Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency, said buildings that hadn’t collapsed so far suffered repeated stress, and authorities have urged people to avoid both the mountain’s slopes and weakened buildings.
The quake lasted five to 10 seconds and also was felt in Bali and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi. Tourists and villagers in Bali ran out of buildings in panic.
The disaster agency said one person died from a heart attack during the biggest of the daytime quakes and nearly 100 houses near the epicenter were severely damaged.
A magnitude 7.0 quake that struck Lombok on 5 August killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people.
Mount Rinjani has been closed to visitors following a 29 July earthquake that killed 16 people, triggered landslides and stranded hundreds of tourists on the mountain.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that straddles the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Arinze A/The Guardian