A SERIES of earthquakes on the island of Lombok, in Indonesia, has left more than 300 people dead and thousands injured.
On Sunday evening, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the Indonesian island, destroying thousands of buildings and homes, and a strong 5.9-magnitude aftershock on Thursday caused further damage.
The General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, expressed “profound grief”. He said Monday: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people affected by the earthquake.”
Indonesia’s top security minister, Wiranto, said on Thursday that the death toll had now risen to 319 officially.
The full damage of Thursday’s strong aftershock is still unknown.
The Jabal Nur mosque collapsed in the northern village of Lading-Lading on Sunday. It is feared that up to 30 people who had been taking part in evening prayer were crushed. Rescue efforts were ongoing on Wednesday to help those trapped, and the number of dead was expected to rise as rubble was moved.
More than 270,000 people have been displaced owing to the earthquake and damage to their homes, with 68,000 destroyed.
Sunday’s earthquake was the second to strike within a week after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck on 29 July, killing 17 people. More than 300 aftershocks are thought to have been triggered by the bigger earthquake. They are expected to continue for a fortnight.
A state of emergency has been declared in Lombok, so that the Indonesian government and disaster agency can address the disaster.
Tourists who had been on Lombok and the islands surrounding it were evacuated immediately after the earthquake, the disaster agency said.
Pope Francis also prayed for “the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured, and the consolation of all who grieve the loss of their loved ones”, and expressed “heartfelt solidarity” with the people of Lombok.
The government is working closely with aid agencies to help the thousands affected by the earthquake. Supplies were flown to the island from Jakarta early on Wednesday.
One charity on the scene is World Vision. Speaking on Tuesday, its national director for Indonesia, Doseba Sinay, said that 900,000 people live in the affected area.
He said: “The government is working very hard and is in full co-operation with agencies and non-governmental organisations.
“One of the biggest problems was that electricity was down on Lombok, as were telephone lines, so it was very difficult for communication.”
He continued: “Until today all schools have been closed while building checks are ongoing — it is hoped that some schools can reopen soon. There is a real need for our team to be there to assist children and mothers.
“There are nine staff on Lombok after the second earthquake. We are assisting with family care, providing blankets, aid, and basic medicine. We are working hand in hand with all parties, including the government, and we will continue to work closely with the communities to help their needs.”
The humanitarian and emergency affairs director at World Vision Indonesia, Margaretha Siregar, said: “World Vision has already got equipped and trained staff in the field conducting initial assessments to identify the immediate needs of the affected displaced children and their families.
“We will continue to mobilise the response with local partners, and plan to focus on child protection, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, and making sure children have access to education in the aftermath of the crisis.”
Oxfam said that more than 20,000 people were in temporary shelters on Monday, and this number is expected to rise. A spokesman said that access to clean drinking water is limited because of extremely dry weather leading up to the disaster.