Indonesia quake: Operation underway to rescue thousands of tourists

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Jakarta, Aug 7 (IANS) An operation was underway on Tuesday to evacuate thousands of tourists who were stranded after a deadly earthquake jolted Indonesia’s Lombok Island killing 98 people and injuring over 200 others.

A video released by authorities showed hundreds of people, many believed to be foreign tourists, crammed onto a beach on the island of Gili Trawangan as evacuation measures got underway, reports CNN.

The island, famous for its white sandy beaches and clear waters, is located near the epicentre of the 6.9 magnitude quake on Lombok that struck on Sunday evening.

Rescue efforts earlier were hampered by shallow waters, but rising sea waters have paved the way for nine ships to dock on Gili island.

So far, up to 2,700 tourists have been moved from the Gili Island. Lombok’s airport was now open around the clock and had significantly increased its flight schedule.

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The epicentre of the quake was in northern Lombok, a more residential, less developed part of the island. The majority of Lombok’s tourist resorts are on the island’s southern coast.

An estimated 20,000 people have been displaced by the massive earthquake

Rescue teams on Tuesday also continued searching under debris from collapsing buildings for more survivors, reports Efe news.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesperson of the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), said the teams rescued a survivor from a collapsed mosque in northern Lombok, the most affected area where 72 people were found dead.

The earthquake was also felt in neighbouring Bali. More than 100 aftershocks continued to rattle the region after the main quake.

The devastation comes exactly a week after the region was hit by a 6.4 magnitude quake that left at least 15 people dead and 162 injured.

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–IANS

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