Hikers trapped on mountain after Indonesian quake

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Jakarta, July 30 (IANS) More than 200 hikers are trapped on a mountain on the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok, after a deadly earthquake triggered landslides which cut off escape routes.

They are from France, Thailand, the Netherlands and Malaysia. Hundreds of rescue workers are now working to evacuate them from Mount Rinjani, a popular hiking destination, the BBC reported.

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck early on Sunday not far from the base of the mountain. At least 14 people have died, and more than 160 were injured.

Thousands of homes have been damaged and hundreds have been left homeless as substantial aftershocks rocked Lombok and neighbouring Bali island.

A Malaysian tourist who was on a hiking trip to Mount Rinjani was among those killed. Another young Indonesian hiker was also killed by falling rocks.

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Authorities said more than 500 people, mostly foreign tourists, have already come down from the mountain but 266 are still trapped up there. Helicopters are now searching for the stranded.

Rinjani, a volcanic mountain, draws hundreds of thousands of climbers from across the world each year, said the BBC.

Dramatic footage filmed by guides on the mountain at the time of the quake showed huge landslides near the crater lake.

Tour guide Sukanta said: “Some of the people [were at] the lake, because the location of the lake is in the middle…they cannot go anywhere because of landslides… They have to stay near the lake.”

A group of Malaysian tourists, who have now reached safety and are due to leave Lombok by plane on Monday had earlier posted for help on Facebook.

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“We need helicopters to evacuate us from this area please. The road here is badly damaged, nearest airport is three hours away. The tremors are getting more frequent and 3G is getting slower.

“Please be quick and save us anyone. At the moment, the locals are keeping us full, they cooked and prepared us shelter. Can someone, anyone, contact the rescue team to be faster please?” the post read.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire — the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

More than half of the world’s active volcanoes above sea level are part of the ring.

–IANS

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