Lombok earthquake death toll surges above 400

Lombok earthquake death toll surges above 400
Posted at 6:54 AM, Aug 13, 2018

The death toll from the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Lombok more than a week ago has surged to 436, authorities said Monday.

The number is expected to rise further as search and rescue efforts continue in the rubble strewn across the island by the quake and another one that struck on August 9.

Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) has been working with the country's military and police to supply aid and food to the 350,000 people displaced by the quakes.

As of Monday, 21 tonnes of aid had been delivered on a cargo plane, according to BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.


However, the island still faces a mammoth recovery effort, and relief agencies warn that the full impact of the quake remains to be known.

"We are still waiting for assessments from some of the more remote areas in the north of the island, but it is already clear that Sunday's earthquake was exceptionally destructive," said Red Cross spokesman Christopher Rassi.

Aid groups are struggling to reach the epicenter of the quake, located in the northern, more residential part of the island. Their path is blocked by heavy debris, damaged jungle roads and the risk of landslides.

There have been 543 aftershocks since the quake rocked the island, further hampering relief and rescue efforts.

"A lot of people are displaced, and many have migrated to the hilly and mountainous areas because of fear of a tsunami," Red Cross representative Husni Husni told CNN on Saturday.

The mountainous northern region of Lombok is home primarily to locals, as the majority of tourists stay in resorts on the southern coast.

When the quake hit, residents of Lombok had barely begun recovering from another 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed 15 people a week earlier.

The devastation saw homes flattened, with falling debris causing the majority of casualties. About 80% of buildings have been destroyed in the north, according to government estimates.

Gusti Lanang Wisnuwandana, an official with the Mataram Search and Relief Office, said rescue workers were struggling to deal with survivors terrified of being indoors after the quake.

"They are still traumatized. Most of them are not willing to stay in the building while they are undergoing (an) operation or after they have undergone (an) operation. They want to be treated outdoors," he told CNN Saturday.