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8/6/2018 3:55:33 PM

1,200 tourists being evacuated from Indonesia quake islands: Disaster agency

More than one thousand tourists were being evacuated from Indonesia's Gili Islands on Monday (Aug 6) after a powerful quake struck neighbouring Lombok, killing 91 people and injuring hundreds.

A tourist stands near damaged buildings as he tries to flag down a car following a strong earthquake in Pemenang, North Lombok on Aug 6, 2018. (Photo: Antara Foto/Ahmad Subaidi/via REUTERS)

The Gilis are three coral-fringed tropical islands a few kilometres off the northwest coast of the larger Lombok island that are popular with backpackers and divers.

Footage posted online by rescue officials showed hundreds of panicked tourists and locals crowded onto powder-white beaches desperately waiting for transport off the normally paradise islands.

Muhammad Faozal, the head of West Nusa Tenggara's tourism agency, said there were about 1,200 mostly foreign tourists on the Gilis.

"We cannot evacuate all of them all at once because we don't have enough capacity on the boats. It's understandable they want to leave the Gilis, they are panicking," he told AFP.

He said extra boats, including at least two navy vessels, were on their way.

Lombok, a volcanic island that towers over the flatter Gilis, bore the brunt of Sunday's quake, with the vast majority of deaths occurring there.

However, a local search and rescue official said there had been at least one fatality on the Gilis and several injuries.

"One Indonesian tourist died in Gili Meno, several were injured, mostly suffering from broken bones," rescue official Agus Hendra Sanjaya told AFP, referencing the middle island.

The 6.9 magnitude tremor, which triggered panic among tourists and locals on Sunday evening, was also felt on the bustling island of Bali, one of Southeast Asia's leading tourist destinations.

Foreign tourists pull their suitcases as they walk past damaged buildings following a strong earthquake in Pemenang, North Lombok, Indonesia August 6, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. (Photo: Antara Foto/Ahmad Subaidi/via Reuters)

At least one person was killed by falling debris and dozens of buildings and temples were damaged on the majority-Hindu island, said I Wayan Karnawan, the head of the local disaster mitigation agency in Bangli regency.

American model Chrissy Teigen, who is staying in Bali with her children and singer husband John Legend, live-tweeted the quake.

"Bali. Trembling. So long," she told her 10.6 million followers.

"We are safe, up high and nothing around us. Thinking about everyone around us and in Lombok especially," she added.

The main tourist areas of Lombok in the south and west of the island appear to have been spared the worst of the damage.

Lombok's beaches and hiking trails draw holidaymakers from around the world.

But some afraid tourists were already trying to leave.

A French tourist, who gave his name as Jina, told local broadcaster Metro TV, he had tried to rush to Lombok's main airport.

"But there was no taxi, no transport, no plan for evacuation."

"Later I stopped a car and I asked a local please take me and my family to the airport and he said 'okay no problem'."


Long lines formed at the airport of Lombok's main town, Mataram, as foreign visitors cut their holidays short.

The Garuda Indonesia airline said it was adding extra flights from Lombok to help tourists leave.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted that the budget airline would try to lay on extra flights, while Indonesian budget carriers Lion Air and Citilink said there had been a jump in demand for outbound flights from Lombok and Bali.

"I was at the rooftop of my hotel and the building started swaying very hard. It felt like two metres to the left, then two metres to the right, I could not stand up," said Gino Poggiali, a 43-year-old Frenchman, who was with his wife and two children, at the Lombok airport.

His wife Maude, 44, said the family were on Bali for the first quake and Lombok for the second.

"This is it for me in Indonesia," she said. "Next time we will stay in France or somewhere close."

Carlos Romartinez, a 24-year-old Spaniard who was also waiting for a flight out of Lombok, said he had decided to head instead to the island of Flores to the east.

"All the activities are shut down. We can't dive, we can't do anything so we will go to another island," he said.

Dutch tourist Marc Ganbuwalba injured his knee as a stampede of diners rushed from a restaurant after the quake.

"We are cutting short our holiday because I can't walk and we're just not in the mood anymore, more in the mood to see our loved ones," said the 26-year-old, sitting on a trolley with his leg bandaged.

"We are just thankful to god and also to the hotel staff who really helped us. Some of them said their own houses had been destroyed but they were still helping us."

Most of the victims in the latest disaster died in the north and east of Lombok. Thousands of people were evacuated to outside shelters.

Bali's international airport suffered damage to its terminal but the runway was unaffected and operations had returned to normal, disaster agency officials said./.

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