Earthquakes cut power, topple buildings on Indonesian island of Lombok

This latest quake hit as relief work continues in the aftermath of two previous quakes to rock Lombok. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Earthquakes cut power, topple buildings on Indonesian island of Lombok

  • Strong earthquake rocks the Indonesian island of Lombok Sunday, triggering landslides and sending people fleeing into the streets
  • It was the third major quake in less than a month to rock the island, after deadly tremors on July 29 and August 5

MATARAM, Indonesia: A strong earthquake has cut power across the Indonesian island of Lombok and destroyed buildings as the tourist hotspot tries to recover from a temblor earlier this month that killed hundreds of people.
The shallow magnitude 6.9 quake that hit just after 10 p.m. Sunday was one of multiple powerful earthquakes in the northeast of the island that also caused landslides. The nighttime quake was followed by strong aftershocks.
An Associated Press reporter in Sembalun subdistrict, on the island's northeast in the shadow of Mount Rinjani, said the latest quake caused panic, but many people were already staying in tents following the deadly quake in early August and its hundreds of aftershocks.
There was no immediate official information about casualties.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said power was cut across the island, hampering efforts to assess the situation. Some houses and other buildings in Sembalun had collapsed, it said.
"People panicked and scattered," said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. "Some people are hysterical because they feel earthquake aftershocks that are harder than before. They heard a roar that probably came from landslides in the hills and Mount Rinjani."
Dwikorita Karnawatim, who heads Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said buildings that haven't collapsed so far have suffered repeated stress, and authorities have urged people to avoid both the mountain's slopes and weakened buildings.
The quake lasting five to 10 seconds also was felt in the neighboring islands of Bali and Sumbawa and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi. An AP reporter said tourists and villagers in Bali ran out of buildings in panic.
The daytime quakes that included a magnitude 6.3 jolt caused landslides on the slopes of Rinjani, an active volcano, and panic in villages. Video shot by the Indonesian Red Cross showed huge clouds of dust billowing from the mountain's slopes.
The disaster agency said one person died from a heart attack during the biggest of the daytime quakes and nearly 100 houses near the epicenter were severely damaged.
A magnitude 7.0 quake that struck Lombok on Aug. 5 killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people.
Mount Rinjani has been closed to visitors following a July earthquake that killed 16 people, triggered landslides and stranded hundreds of tourists on the mountain.
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that straddles the Pacific "Ring of Fire," is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

 


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

Updated 52 min 6 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.