Quake swarm jolts Indonesian islands, killing at least 13

A badly damaged house in Mataram on Indonesia’s Lombok island on Aug. 20, 2018 after a series of earthquakes were recorded by seismologists throughout August 19. (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana/AFP)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Quake swarm jolts Indonesian islands, killing at least 13

  • At least a dozen people are killed in multiple strong earthquakes on the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa
  • More than 1,800 houses were damaged, at least half of them severely

SEMBALUN, Indonesia: Multiple strong earthquakes killed at least a dozen people on the Indonesian islands of Lombok and Sumbawa as the region was trying to recover from a temblor earlier this month that killed hundreds of people.
A shallow magnitude 6.9 quake that hit about 10 p.m. was one of several powerful earthquakes Sunday in the northeast of Lombok that also caused landslides. The nighttime quake was followed by strong aftershocks.
At last 11 people on Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa island were killed by collapsing buildings or heart attacks, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Monday. Two people died earlier Sunday on Lombok during a magnitude 6.3 quake.
More than 1,800 houses were damaged, at least half of them severely, he said.
The swarm of quakes caused panic in Sembalun subdistrict on Lombok in the shadow of Mount Rinjani, but many people were already staying in tents following the deadly jolt in early August and its hundreds of aftershocks. On Sumbawa, a neighborhood was engulfed by a fire that started in a collapsed house.
“People panicked and scattered,” Nugroho said. “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.
Sunday night’s tremor occurred on a different fault and was not an aftershock of the magnitude 7.0 quake on Aug. 5 that killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people.
The quake lasting five to 10 seconds also was felt in the neighboring island of Bali and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi.
Quakes earlier Sunday caused landslides on Rinjani, an active volcano. Video shot by the Indonesian Red Cross showed huge clouds of dust billowing from the mountain’s slopes.
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 29 min 7 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.