Rescue operations under way after Indonesia’s Lombok island hit by powerful quake

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Search and rescue personnel search for victims trapped under the ruins of a collapsed mosque in quake-stricken Lombok island as a digger clears debris on Monday, Aug. 6. (Photo: Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency/BNPB)
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Search and rescue personnel search for victims trapped under the ruins of a collapsed mosque in quake-stricken Lombok island as a digger clears debris on Monday, Aug. 6. (Photo: Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency/BNPB)
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Search and rescue personnel search for victims trapped under the ruins of a collapsed mosque in quake-stricken Lombok island as a digger clears debris on Monday, Aug. 6. (Photo: Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency/BNPB)
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Floating military hospital KRI Dr. Soeharso being prepared on Monday, Aug. 6 to depart from a naval base in Surabaya to Lombok to help victims of a strong earthquake that shook the island on Sunday, Aug 5. (Photo: Indonesian military/TNI media office)
Updated 07 August 2018

Rescue operations under way after Indonesia’s Lombok island hit by powerful quake

  • Search for survivors of the earthquake that hit Indonesian islands of Lombok and Bali last night continues as death toll rises to 98
  • The quake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale with 47 aftershocks recorded in two and a half hours, causing panic

JAKARTA: Quake-stricken residents of Lombok island in central Indonesia are reeling from two powerful earthquakes that struck the island in just a week, as a search-and-rescue operation was under way to look for more casualties trapped under the debris of collapsed buildings.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll from the magnitude-7 earthquake that struck the island on Sunday evening has risen from 91 to 98, including two deaths in Bali and 236 injured.

“A backhoe has been deployed to search for victims trapped under the rubble of a mosque in Lading-Lading village as they were praying when the quake struck,” Nugroho said.

Nugroho said all the dead are Indonesians and there were no foreigners among the victims.

North Lombok district, the area closest to the epicenter, is the hardest-hit area and the number of deaths is expected to increase as a rescue operation is under way with thousands of buildings damaged in most parts of the island.

“Rescuers are still unable to reach all areas affected but they continue to scour those areas to evacuate victims. We continue to compile the data,” he said.

There have been 176 aftershocks recorded so far, but with decreasing intensity.

Nugroho added that all 2,700 foreign and domestic tourists have been evacuated from Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, the three tourist islets off the northwestern coast of Lombok after nine boats were deployed to transport them to the mainland.

Taufan Rahmadi, founder of a local volunteer group, Friends of Tourists, said he and his group of volunteers have been assisting the tourists in their transfer from the islands to the airport in Mataram.

“I am in now in Bangsal port in North Lombok where tourists from the three Gilis are arriving. The transfers have been going smoothly so far,” Rahmadi told Arab News.

Desi Fitriana, who was attending a conference in the island’s main city of Mataram, said she had to evacuate the hotel where she had stayed since Friday and spent last night sleeping on the floors of Lombok airport.

“We weren’t allowed to go back to our hotel until this afternoon. We were finally able to freshen up at a hotel near the airport,” she told Arab News.

The military was deploying a floating military hospital, KRI Dr. Soeharso, from the naval base in Surabaya, East Java and will dock in the waters off Lombok.

The geophysics agency had issued a tsunami warning after the quake struck at 7.46 p.m. local time but it was lifted almost two hours later after the agency detected low rising tides.

Head of the geophysics agency Dwikorita Karnawati said in a televised press conference that despite the low rising tides, the agency still had to issue the warning and officials had to warn people to stay away from the coastal areas because the impact of the waves would depend on the coastal areas’ topography.

Television footage showed people were fleeing from buildings and crowding the streets as they tried to reach higher ground. The tremor was felt in the eastern part of East Java province and in the neighboring island of Bali, where some buildings, including the international airport Ngurah Rai, have been damaged.

Karnawati said the epicenter was on the northern slope of Mount Rinjani on the eastern part of the island and not far from the epicenter of last week’s 6.4 magnitude quake that left 19 dead and more than 1,000 domestic and foreign hikers trapped on the mountain because the quake triggered a landslide that blocked the hiking routes.

A regional ministerial-level conference on counterterrorism that was set to be held in Mataram on Monday had been canceled following the earthquake. Chief security minister Wiranto, who was hosting the event, was already on the island on Sunday.

He was hosting a welcoming dinner for his regional counterparts and their delegations from Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Myanmar when the quake struck.

The foreign ministry said a two-day regional conference on people smuggling with Indonesian and Australian foreign ministers in attendance was still being held on Monday and Tuesday as scheduled.


UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

The Royal Navy has been deployed as recently as January 2019 in an attempt to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2020

UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

  • French parliamentarian called the plans a “political measure” that would not help the situation.
  • Roughly 4,000 people have made the dangerous trip from France to the UK so far this year.

LONDON: The UK has announced it will use the military to prevent migrants entering the country from France via the English Channel, but the plans have drawn criticism from French politicians and rights groups in the UK.

More than 4,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far this year, and many of those have done so in small and overburdened boats.

Responding to the escalating number of people attempting the journey, the Home Office officially requested last week that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) assist the Border Force in its duties.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her department was “working to make this route unviable” and announced on Sunday the appointment of a former Royal Marine to manage the government’s response to the crossings.

In response to Patel’s request, the MoD announced on Monday that it would send a Royal Air Force plane with spotters on board to assist the Border Force in its operations in the English Channel.

But the issue has caused tension between the UK and France.

The French National Assembly member for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, slammed the decision to use the military to prevent crossings as a useless “political measure.”

He said: “What is the British navy going to do if it sees a small boat? Is it going to shoot the boat? Is it going to enter French waters? It’s a political measure to show some kind of muscle but technically speaking it won’t change anything.”

Paris has also requested that London provides £30 million to fund French efforts to prevent migrants from attempting the dangerous crossing from their side.

Patel’s decision to use the military to prevent Channel crossings has also drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Bella Sankey, a barrister and director of Detention Action said: “The home secretary’s hysterical plea to the navy is as irresponsible as it is ironic. Pushbacks at sea are unlawful and would threaten human lives.

“No civilised country can even consider this, let alone a country with a tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution,” she added.

Migration has long been a hot button issue in British politics, and this will not be the first time authorities have used the military to enforce migration policies.

In January 2019, the Royal Navy sent three ships to the Channel to prevent migrant crossings, saying at the time that the deployment would “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.”