Strong 6.2 magnitude aftershock sparks fresh panic in quake-hit Lombok

PEMENANG: A magnitude 6.2 aftershock rocked Indonesia’s Lombok on Thursday, sparking fresh panic on the tropical tourist island as the official death toll from a powerful earthquake four days earlier almost doubled to 259.
Witnesses said buildings and walls that had already been weakened collapsed, and people ran out onto roads even as rocks tumbled down from hillsides.
“Evacuees and people ran out of houses when they felt the strong shake of the 6.2 magnitude quake,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), said on Twitter. “People are still traumatised. Some buildings were damaged further because of this.”
Officials said the epicentre of the aftershock was on land and so there was no risk of a tsunami.
The United States Geological Survey recorded the latest quake at 5.9, at a depth of 10 km.
BNPB’s toll of verified deaths from Sunday’s 6.9 magnitude quake was raised on Thursday to 259 from 131.
“This number will continue increasing as rescue teams continue to find victims under collapsed buildings,” the agency said.
A humanitarian crisis is also looming in Lombok, where thousands have been left homeless and in desperate need of clean water, food, medicine and shelter.
Authorities made announcements over loudspeakers at evacuation sites, urging people to remain calm and stay inside tents or find open space if they were inside or near buildings.
“Please stay calm, this is just an aftershock and it will be over soon, there’s no need to be scared,” one official announced.
Officials said about three-quarters of Lombok’s rural north had been without electricity since Sunday, although power had since been restored in most areas before the aftershock.
Aid workers have found some villages hard to reach because bridges and roads were destroyed.
— Reuters