A magnitude 6.3 earthquake yesterday rocked the Indonesian island of Lombok, sending people fleeing into the streets just two weeks after a tremor killed more than 460 people.
The quake, centered in East Lombok, hit at a relatively shallow depth of 7km and was felt across the island, officials said.
However, it was less powerful than the deadly quake earlier this month and there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
“The earthquake caused people to panic and flee their houses,” Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management public relations head Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Metro TV. “There have been no reports of death or [serious] damage, but people are traumatized.”
Landslides were reported in Mount Rinjani National Park, where hundreds of hikers had been trapped on a volcano after a quake late last month. The park has been closed since that incident.
Residents said that the latest earthquake was felt strongly in East Lombok.
“I was driving to deliver aid to evacuees when suddenly the electricity pole was swaying. I realized it was an earthquake,” East Lombok resident Agus Salim said. “People started to scream and cry. They all ran to the street.”
The tremor was also felt in the island’s capital, Mataram, and on the neighboring island of Bali.
“Everybody ran outside their house. They’re all gathering in an open field, still terrified,” said Endri Susanto, a children’s rights campaigner in Mataram. “People are traumatized by the previous earthquakes and aftershocks never seem to stop.”
The latest tremor comes two weeks after a shallow magnitude 6.9 quake on Aug. 5 leveled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok.
More than 460 people died and tens of thousands were injured. The hardest hit region was in the north of the island, which has suffered hundreds of aftershocks since.
A week before that quake, another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.
The Aug. 5 quake left more than 350,000 displaced with many sleeping under tents or tarpaulins near their ruined homes or in evacuation shelters, while makeshift medical facilities were set up to treat the injured.
Badly damaged roads, particularly in the mountainous north of the island, have created a headache for relief agencies trying to distribute aid.
The economic toll of the quake — including its effect on buildings, infrastructure and productivity — has been estimated to be at least 5 trillion rupiah (US$345 million).
Dubbed “the island of a thousand mosques,” Muslim-majority Lombok is a less popular destination than its neighbor Bali, the Hindu-majority island that forms the backbone of Indonesia’s US$19.4 billion tourism sector.
However, Lombok has been earmarked as one of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s “10 new Balis,” with the regional government hoping to develop it into a major destination, especially in the booming halal tourism sector.
Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the Pacific’s so-called “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur
In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, western Indonesia, killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
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