Efforts have begun to evacuate more than a thousand foreign tourists from Indonesian resort islands a day after a powerful earthquake killed at least 98 people and left more than 200 seriously injured.
Sunday's quake, recorded at magnitude 6.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey (revised down from 7.0), struck at a depth of 10.5 kilometers in the northern part of Lombok, triggering a brief tsunami warning. It was also felt on the neighboring Gili Islands as well as Bali, Sumbawa and parts of East Java.
Much of the evacuation efforts are focused on the tiny Gili islands, three tiny vacation islands near Lombok. Tourists lined up on the small beaches early Monday waiting for the boats that would take them to the larger Lombok island.
Indonesia's Garuda Airlines said it was adding extra flights from Lombok to accommodate tourists seeking to leave.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told reporters Monday that most of those killed and injured were on the northern side of Lombok, which sustained massive damage.
Nugroho says the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue crews reach more affected areas. He said no foreign tourists are among the dead.
Electricity was knocked out in several parts of the city and patients were evacuated from the main hospital.
Singapore Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was in the Lombok town of Mataram at the time of the quake. He posted pictures of the destruction on his Facebook page and said his 10th-floor hotel room shook violently and walls cracked.
"It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams," he wrote. "Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking. Power went out for a while. Lots of cracks, fallen doors."
Australia/s Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, was also on Lombok. He said he was knocked to the floor of his room on the 12th floor of a hotel .
Mutya Aryani, a local resident in Sumbawa, told VOA by phone, Most of people were at the mosque when the earthquake happened. People ran to the street and a large field outside the mosque. We're still traumatized by the previous earthquake a few days ago which was also quite large.
Last week, 17 people were killed when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Lombok.
Like Bali, Lombok is known for its pristine beaches and mountains.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire,'' an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Ocean Basin. In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Source: Voice of America