By Ahmad Syamsudin
A powerful magnitude 6.2 aftershock rattled Indonesia’s Lombok island on Thursday, causing people to run onto roads in panic as authorities said the death toll from a devastating earthquake on the weekend topped 300.
The aftershock caused some buildings already damaged in Sunday’s quake to crumble, injuring at least 24 people, according to National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
“The aftershock measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale worsened the victims’ trauma,” he said.
It was the third major temblor to strike the island since the magnitude 6.4 quake on July 29 that killed 20 people and Sunday’s quake that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) initially recorded at magnitude 7.0. The Colorado-based agency later on revised it down to 6.9.
Indonesia’s geological agency reported that Thursday’s aftershock was shallow, at a depth of 12 kilometers (7.5 miles). That tremor measured at 5.9, according to USGS and Geoscience Australia, giving a slightly lower magnitude.
Senior security minister Wiranto, who is in charge of coordinating the emergency response after Sunday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake, put the death toll at 319.
“This figure was based on reports from villagers to local officials,” said Wiranto, who goes by one name.
There were conflicting reports over the number of fatalities.
National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the official death toll stood at 259, but he warned that the casualties were still expected to rise as rescuers clawed through rubble in search of more bodies.
“Some victims are still under the rubble of collapsed buildings,” he said.
At least 1,030 were being treated in hospital with serious injuries and more than 270,000 people were displaced, Sutopo said. About 70,000 houses, schools, mosques and other buildings were damaged, he said.
Indonesia’s Meteorological, Geophysical and Climatological Agency has recorded at least 355 aftershocks since Sunday’s quake.
Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Governor’s daughter hit by debris
Among the injured was the daughter of West Nusa Tenggara Gov. Muhammad Zainul Majdi. She was hit by debris from a public kitchen set up to feed the displaced. A video showed the governor’s wife, Erica, trying to comfort her.
The disaster has also taken a toll on the island’s tourism.
The Bangsal Port, which was usually bustling with foreign tourists traveling to Gili Islands, was deserted.
More than 7,000 tourists, mostly foreigners, have been evacuated through other ports on Lombok and the neighboring island of Bali.
Almost all residents of Gili Trawangan islet have sought refuge on the Lombok mainland.
“We have evacuated on Monday,” said Agus Radi, a Gili Trawangan resident.
Agus said most Gili Trawangan residents rely on tourism for their livelihood.
Hotels, restaurants and other businesses were hit hard at Gili Matra. Authorities were still trying to assess the cost of damage, Lalu Mohammad Faozal, head of the provincial tourism office, told BenarNews.
“Emotionally, we are shaken, seeing all the badly damaged buildings,” Lalu said.
Anton Muhajir in Lombok contributed to this report.