Indonesian rescuers struggle to reach cut-off villages after deadly quake

Indonesian people carry an injured woman in Pemenang, North Lombok on August 6, 2018, the day after a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the area. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2018
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Indonesian rescuers struggle to reach cut-off villages after deadly quake

  • Quakes continue to rattle the island, including a 5.5 magnitude tremor at around 2 a.m. (1800 GMT Monday), Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency said (BMKG)
  • Tourists were still leaving Lombok on Tuesday, some seen riding in military buses while others took ferries to Bali to the west of Lombok

PEMENANG, Indonesia: Indonesian rescue workers and military personnel resumed their search for survivors and evacuated more victims on the tourist island of Lombok on Tuesday, two days after a major earthquake killed dozens, destroyed villages and stranded thousands.
The death toll since the 6.9 magnitude quake on Sunday has reached 98, including two on the neighboring island of Bali, and officials expect it to rise.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), said on Twitter rescuers were combing through rubble in their search for survivors.
In a separate statement, BNPB said rescue efforts faced difficulties in the worst-hit area of northern Lombok but provided few details. Nugroho told a news briefing on Monday some areas there were cut off after bridges collapsed.
Riduan, a 45-year old man whose house in Karangkauhan on Lombok was partially destroyed, said he had received no aid so far and had to buy food on his own.
“We don’t get anything,” he said while trying to rescue documents from his house.
Quakes continue to rattle the island, including a 5.5 magnitude tremor at around 2 a.m. (1800 GMT Monday), Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency said (BMKG).
A total of 230 aftershocks were recorded by Tuesday morning, BMKG data showed.
Lombok had already been hit by a 6.4 quake on July 29 that killed 17 people and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.
Tourists were still leaving Lombok on Tuesday, some seen riding in military buses while others took ferries to Bali to the west of Lombok.
Officials said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated from the three Gili islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, where fears of a tsunami had spread soon after the quake.
Tourists and Gili residents alike were seeking to leave the islands, according to Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.
There was no official figure for how many tourists were on the islands, with numbers jumping from an original estimate of about 1,000.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 28 min 45 sec ago

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.