The death toll of the Indonesian earthquake continues to climb and has surged to 460 casualties, according to the latest reports. Several thousand people are still left without shelter and living in fear every time an aftershock hits.
Indonesia was first struck by a shallow 6.4 earthquake on July 29, resulting in a few casualties and some property damage. However, there was a second earthquake a few days later that turned out to be extremely destructive, killing hundreds of people and resulting in extensive damage to buildings.
“People panicked and scattered on the streets, and buildings and houses that had been damaged by the previous earthquake had become more damaged and collapsed,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho is quoted by ABC7.
The agency, together with the country’s military, is currently supplying food and aid to more than 350,000 displaced people. Rescue efforts are still going on to remove trapped people from the debris. But the aftershocks are proving quite a challenge to the rescue teams. According to estimates, about 80 percent of the buildings north of Lombok Island have been destroyed by the quake.
Unfortunately, the residents have been so psychologically scarred by the earthquake that most of them are afraid of remaining indoors for any length of time. “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,” a rescue official said to CNN.
The Indonesian archipelago is located along a 25,000-mile area called the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is known to be a highly active volcanic and seismic region.
Trouble for tourists
Tourists across Lombok and Bali have been flying out from the region following the earthquake. Many of them were initially trapped in their localities due to the damage and the eventual disruption of transportation. However, rescue teams have worked hard at getting scared tourists out of Indonesia. In the Gili Islands, the government has evacuated more than 8,400 tourists.
“We were sitting there having dinner at about 7 o’clock last night, we just felt a really big sort of shaking and the lights went off and everyone just ran. And then the roof started falling down on us, rocks and rubble and then just everyone running to get away,” News.com.au quotes an Australian tourist.
Fortunately, flights from International Airports located at Bali and Lombok are functioning properly. Authorities have also increased the number of flights to deal with the high demand from desperate tourists trying to get back to their homelands.
The earthquakes have even caused Lombok Island to rise up by around 10 inches, according to from the California Institute of Technology and NASA.
“From the pattern of deformation in the map, scientists have determined that the earthquake fault slip was on a fault between the northwestern part of Lombok Island, and it caused as much as 10 inches (25cm) of uplift of the ground surface. White areas in the image are places where the radar measurement was not possible, largely due to dense forest in the middle of the islands,” Express quotes NASA from a statement.
The region has seen more than 500 aftershocks since the main earthquake. Several hundred thousand people have become homeless, with many moving onto the hills to avoid the possibility of getting hit with a tsunami.