Indonesia quake toll jumps to 164, survivors wait for aid

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MATARAM (WEST NUSA TENGGARA), Indonesia, Aug 9, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The
devastating earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok was “exceptionally
destructive” and wiped out entire villages in the worst-hit regions, relief
agencies warned as the death toll jumped to more than 160 on Thursday.

Relief efforts have yet to reach parts of the island four days after the
quake hit, Indonesian authorities said, as hopes fade of finding further
survivors among the wreckage.

“There are still some evacuees that have not yet been touched by aid,
especially in North Lombok and West Lombok,” national disaster agency
spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted Thursday.

A total of 164 people were now confirmed dead in the quake, Nugroho told
AFP, with a further 1,400 seriously injured and more than 150,000 displaced.

Local authorities, international relief groups and the central government
have begun organising aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach
survivors in the mountainous north of Lombok, which bore the brunt of the
quake.

“We are still waiting for assessments from some of the more remote areas in
the north of the island, but it is already clear that Sunday’s earthquake was
exceptionally destructive,” Christopher Rassi, the head of a Red Cross
assessment team on Lombok, said in a statement.

“I visited villages yesterday that were completely collapsed.”

Tens of thousands of homes, businesses and mosques were levelled by the
quake, which struck on Sunday as evening prayers were being said across the
Muslim-majority island.

There are fears that two collapsed mosques in north Lombok had been filled
with worshippers.

Rescuers have found three bodies and also managed to pull one man alive
from the twisted wreckage of one mosque in Lading Lading village, while at
least one body has been spotted under the rubble in Pemenang.

Authorities are gathering information from family members with missing
relatives to determine how many more people may have been in the buildings
when they collapsed, national search and rescue agency spokesman Yusuf Latif
told AFP.

– Waiting for aid –

Across much of the island, a popular tourist destination, once-bustling
villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns.

Many frightened villagers are staying under tents or tarpaulins dotted
along roads or in parched rice fields, and makeshift medical facilities have
been set up to treat the injured.

Evacuees in some encampments say they are running out of food, while others
are suffering psychological trauma after the powerful quake, which struck
just one week after another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

There is a dire need for medical staff and “long-term aid”, especially food
and medicine in the worst-hit areas, government officials said.

Some evacuees have complained of being ignored or experiencing long delays
for supplies to arrive at shelters.

“There has been no help at all here,” said 36-year-old Multazam, staying
with hundreds of others under tarpaulins on a dry paddy field outside West
Pemenang village.

“We have no clean water, so if we want to go to the toilet we use a small
river nearby,” he said, adding they needed food, bedding and medicine.

The Indonesian Red Cross said it had set up 10 mobile clinics in the north
of the island.

A field hospital has also been established near an evacuation centre
catering to more than 500 people in the village of Tanjung.

Kurniawan Eko Wibowo, a doctor at the field hospital, said most patients
had broken bones and head injuries.

“We lack the infrastructure to perform operations because (they) need to be
performed in a sterile place,” Wibowo told AFP.

Aid groups say children are particularly vulnerable, with many sleeping in
open fields and suffering illnesses from lack of warm clothing and blankets.

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