Powerful quake on Indonesia's Lombok island kills 91 as 900 tourists flee

Indonesian staff at a morgue move the coffin of an earthquake victim at a police hospital in Lombok, in West Nusa Tenggara province on July 31, 2018 after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island on July 29. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2018
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Powerful quake on Indonesia's Lombok island kills 91 as 900 tourists flee

  • The latest quake had a magnitude of seven and struck just 10 km underground
  • Officials issued a tsunami warning and urged people to move away from the ocean

MATARAM: Daybreak revealed chaos and destruction across the Indonesian resort island of Lombok on Monday after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake killed at least 91 people and prompted an exodus of tourists rattled by the second powerful quake in a week.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said the death toll was expected to rise as information comes in from areas where thousands of buildings collapsed or were badly damaged, especially in the north, the quake’s epicentre.
Power and communications were cut in some areas of Lombok, and the military said it was sending in a vessel with medical aid, supplies and logistical support for the island.
Lombok was hit a week earlier, on July 29, by a 6.4 magnitude quake that killed 17 people, injured hundreds and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.
The Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) said that more than 120 aftershocks were recorded after Sunday evening’s quake, whose magnitude the U.S. Geological Survey revised down to 6.9 from an original 7.0.
There were no foreigners among the dead and the number of injured stood at 209, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference.
The tremor was so powerful it was felt on the neighbouring island of Bali where, according to BNPB, two people died.

 

“This is it for me”
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.”
 

Screams, shaking and cracks
About 1,000 foreign and domestic tourists were evacuated in boats from the three Gili islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, BNPB spokesman Nugroho said via Twitter. No tourists died on the Gilis, he said.
Singapore Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was on the 10th floor of a hotel in Mataram when the quake struck, said that his room shook violently and walls cracked.
“It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams. Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking. Power went out for a while. Lots of cracks, fallen doors,” he wrote on Facebook.
His government issued a travel notice on Monday, advising citizens to defer travel to Lombok and urging those currently there to leave.
Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton was on the 12th floor of a Lombok hotel when the quake struck. “We were knocked certainly to the floor,” he told Australian radio. “We were pretty lucky to get out. Everyone’s a bit shaken but all well.” 


New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

Updated 8 min 6 sec ago
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New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

  • The election of Lori Lightfoot as mayor gives Chicago’s Arabs an opportunity to reverse the damage that Rahm Emanuel has caused
  • Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained against

Plagued by ongoing controversies and criticism that he tried to hide a video of Chicago police killing a black teenager in October 2014, Rahm Emanuel decided he had had enough as the city’s mayor and decided to retire.

Elected in 2011 with a big boost from his former boss, US President Barack Obama — also a Chicago native — Emanuel served two full terms.

But his hopes of reversing the city’s tumbling finances, improving its poorly performing schools, and reversing record gun-related violence and killings, all failed.

However, Emanuel did have one success. He managed to gut the involvement of Chicago’s Arab-American minority in city-sponsored events, responding favorably to its influential Jewish-American community leadership, which complained about Palestinian activists who advocated for statehood and challenged Israeli oppression.

Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained included photographs of Palestinians protesting against Israel. The festival had only been launched four years earlier by his predecessor in 2007.

Emanuel also disbanded the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs, and ended Arab American Heritage Month, which had been held every November since it was recognized by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

Emanuel refused to discuss his reasons for these decisions with leaders of Chicago’s Arab community.

He declined repeated requests by me to interview him, despite my having interviewed seven Chicago mayors. He declined similar requests from other Arab journalists.

While he hosted iftars for Muslims, he never hosted an Arab heritage celebration during his eight years in office.

His father was a leader of the Irgun, which was denounced as a terrorist organization in the 1940s by the British military.

The Irgun murdered British soldiers and thousands of Palestinian civilians, and orchestrated the bloody Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948.

Before becoming mayor, Emanuel volunteered at an Israeli military base repairing damaged vehicles. His pro-Israel stance was never challenged by the mainstream US news media.

But with the election in February of Lori Lightfoot as mayor, Chicago’s Arabs have an opportunity to reverse the damage that Emanuel caused.

Lightfoot was sworn into office on Monday and serves for four years. She has already reached out to Arabs, appointing at least two Palestinians to her 400-person transition team, whose members often remain and assume government positions with new administrations.

The two Palestinians in her transition team are Rush Darwish and Rami Nashashibi. Darwish has organized several successful marathons in Chicago and Bethlehem to raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Nashashibi is involved with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

As an African American, Lightfoot knows what it is like to be the victim of racism, stereotypes and discrimination. That makes her more sensitive to the concerns of Chicago’s Arabs.