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 Commons speaker deals new blow to Johnson’s Brexit plan

Updated 21 October 2019

UK Commons speaker deals new blow to Johnson’s Brexit plan

  • John Bercow plunged the tortuous Brexit process back into grimly familiar territory: grinding parliamentary warfare
  • Johnson’s government was seeking a “straight up-and-down vote” on the agreement he struck with EU nations

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to lead Britain out of the European Union at the end of this month hit another roadblock Monday when the speaker of the House of Commons rejected his attempt to hold a new vote of lawmakers on his Brexit divorce deal.
The ruling by Speaker John Bercow plunged the tortuous Brexit process back into grimly familiar territory: grinding parliamentary warfare.
With just 10 days to go until the UK is due to leave the bloc on Oct. 31, Johnson’s government was seeking a “straight up-and-down vote” on the agreement he struck last week with the 27 other EU nations.
The request came just two days after lawmakers voted to delay approving the Brexit deal. Bercow refused to allow it because parliamentary rules generally bar the same measure from being considered a second time during the same session of Parliament unless something has changed.
Bercow — whose rulings in favor of backbench lawmakers have stymied government plans more than once before — said the motion proposed by the government was “in substance the same” as the one Parliament dealt with on Saturday. He said it would be “repetitive and disorderly” to allow a new vote Monday.
On Saturday — Parliament’s first weekend sitting since the 1982 Falklands War — lawmakers voted to make support for the Brexit deal conditional on passing the legislation to implement it.
Johnson’s Conservative government will now go to its Plan B: get Parliament’s backing for his Brexit blueprint by passing the legislation, known as the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The government plans to publish the bill later Monday and hopes to have it become law by Oct. 31.
But it’s unclear whether Johnson has either the time or the numbers to make that happen.
Passing a bill usually takes weeks, but the government wants to get this one done in 10 days. Johnson needs a majority in Parliament to pass it, but his Conservatives hold just 288 of the 650 House of Common seats.
The process also gives lawmakers another chance to scrutinize — and possibly change— the legislation.
Opposition lawmakers plan to seek amendments that could substantially alter the bill, for example by adding a requirement that the Brexit deal be put to voters in a new referendum. The government says such an amendment would wreck its legislation and it will withdraw the bill if it succeeds.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay urged lawmakers to back the bill and — more than three years after British voters narrowly voted to leave the EU — “enable us to move onto the people’s priorities like health, education and crime.”
“This is the chance to leave the EU with a deal on Oct. 31,” he said. “If Parliament wants to respect the referendum, it must back the bill.”
With the Brexit deadline looming and British politicians still squabbling over the country’s departure terms, Johnson has been forced to ask the EU for a three-month delay to Britain’s departure date.
He did that, grudgingly, to comply with a law passed by Parliament ordering the government to postpone Brexit rather than risk the economic damage that could come from a no-deal exit. But Johnson accompanied the unsigned letter to the EU late Saturday with a second note saying that he personally opposed delaying the UK’s Oct. 31 exit.
Pro-EU activists, who took the government to court in Scotland to ensure that it complied with the law, said the second letter might amount to an attempt to frustrate the legislation. Scotland’s highest court said Monday it would keep the case open, retaining the power to censure Johnson’s government until its obligations under the law have been complied with “in full.”
The claimants’ lawyer, Elaine Motion, said the ruling meant “the sword of Damocles remains hanging” over the government.
The bloc said the fact Johnson had not signed the letter was irrelevant.
European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Monday that European Council President Donald Tusk had acknowledged receiving the Brexit extension request and was now talking with the EU’s other 27 leaders about it.
Those 27 EU leaders are weary of the long-running Brexit saga but also want to avoid a no-deal British exit, which would damage economies on both sides of the Channel.
Germany’s economy minister suggested it could be a few days before the EU decided to respond to the Brexit delay request.
“We will have somewhat more clarity in the coming days, and we will then exercise our responsibility and quickly make a decision,” Germany’s Peter Altmaier said.
He told Deutschlandfunk radio that he wouldn’t have a problem with an extension by “a few days or a few weeks” if that rules out a no-deal Brexit.
But French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a phone call with Johnson over the weekend, called for a quick clarification of the UK’s position. In a statement, he said a delay “would not be in any party’s interest.”
France’s junior minister for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, told French news broadcaster BFM TV there would have to be some reason for the delay, such as a parliamentary election in Britain or a new British referendum on Brexit.