Indonesia Quake Kills 19, Injures Dozens

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A major earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok Sunday killed at least 19 people, injured dozens and damaged buildings, officials said.

The seven-magnitude tremor struck just 10 kilometres (six miles) underground, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was followed by two light to moderate secondary quakes and nearly two dozen aftershocks.

“The latest data we have is 19 people are dead at Tanjung Hospital (North Lombok),” Agus Hendra Sanjaya, Mataram search and rescue spokesman, told AFP.

Many buildings are thought to have been damaged by the quake in Lombok’s main city of Mataram, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency.

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“They are mostly buildings with weak construction material,” Nugroho said.

Residents in Mataram described a strong jolt that sent people scrambling out of buildings.

“Everyone immediately ran out of their homes, everyone is panicking,” Iman, who like many Indonesians has one name, told AFP.

Electricity was knocked out in several parts of the city and patients were evacuated from the main hospital, witnesses and officials said.

Pictures showed patients lying on their beds outside the clinic while doctors in blue scrubs attended to them.

Singapore’s Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was in Lombok for a security conference when the earthquake struck, described on Facebook how his hotel room on the 10th floor shook violently.

Bali’s international airport suffered damage to its terminal but the runway was unaffected and operations had returned to normal, disaster agency officials said.

Facilities at Lombok’s main airport were also unaffected, although passengers were briefly evacuated from the main terminal.

Early reports suggest the quake wrecked buildings in several districts across Bali.

The tremor came a week after a shallow 6.4-magnitude quake hit Lombok, killing 17 people and damaging hundreds of buildings.

It triggered landslides that briefly trapped trekkers on popular mountain hiking routes.

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

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