MATARAM: The death toll from a powerful earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok rose to 105 on Tuesday as rescuers clawed through the rubble of homes, schools and mosques for survivors and evacuees faced another night in the open.
The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake destroyed thousands of buildings and triggered panic among tourists and locals on Lombok Sunday, just a week after a tremor had surged through the holiday island and killed 17.
More than 20,000 people are believed to have been made homeless by the latest quake, with 105 killed and 236 severely injured, officials said Tuesday.
There were fears the death toll would rise as workers with heavy machinery shifted rubble at a collapsed mosque.
Across much of the island, once-bustling villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns, with residents sleeping out in the open — scared to stay near their shattered homes amid hundreds of aftershocks.
“Last night I was on the hill because I was afraid, I heard there would be a tsunami,” Din Iqra, from the northern village of Malaka, told AFP.
“Only this morning were we brave enough to come down.”
Many people made homeless by the quake were sleeping in makeshift shelters in rice fields or on the roadside, according to Silverius Tasman, from Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik, a partner of Save the Children in Indonesia.
“They do not have a water supply and not enough food,” Tasman told AFP, after visiting Karang Bajo village in the island’s north.
“Children are the most vulnerable.”
The tremor struck as evening prayers were being said across the Muslim-majority island.
Crews using heavy equipment to search a collapsed mosque in northern Lombok found three bodies but also managed to pull one man alive from the twisted wreckage.
Video posted online by disaster officials showed the man sobbing with relief as one rescuer told him: “You’re safe sir, you’re safe.”
Authorities said they feared the mosque — now reduced to a pile of concrete and metal bars, its towering green dome folded in on itself — had been filled with worshippers.
“We estimate there are still more victims because we found many sandals in front of the mosque,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters.
Among other major buildings to collapse were a health clinic, government offices and other public facilities, he said.