Third Strong Earthquake Shakes Lombok as Death Toll Tops 220

TANJUNG, Indonesia (AP) -
Birds sit above earthquake-damaged homes in North Lombok, Indonesia, Thursday. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

The Indonesian island of Lombok was shaken by a third big earthquake in little more than a week Thursday as an official said the death toll from an earlier quake had topped 220.

The strong aftershock, measured at magnitude 5.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey, caused panic and damage. It was centered in the northwest of the island and didn’t have the potential to cause a tsunami, Indonesia’s geological agency said.

Videos showed rubble strewn across streets and clouds of dust enveloping buildings. The aftershock had caused more “trauma,” said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Nyoman Sidekarya, chief of the provincial search and rescue agency that covers Lombok, told The Associated Press that the death toll from Sunday’s magnitude 7.0 quake is now 227.

Several agencies have been releasing higher death toll figures than the 131 announced on Wednesday by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, which has a coordinating role in disaster relief. The agency says it has not verified these other figures but expects the toll to climb.

Grieving relatives were burying their dead and medics tended to people whose broken limbs hadn’t yet been treated in the days since Sunday’s quake.

The Red Cross said it was focusing relief efforts on an estimated 20,000 people yet to get any assistance.

Thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed in Sunday’s quake and more than 150,000 people are homeless. The earlier earthquakes also left cracks in walls and roofs, making the weakened buildings susceptible to collapse.

The Indonesian Red Cross said it’s focusing its relief efforts on an estimated 20,000 people in remote areas in the island’s north where aid still has not reached.

Spokesman Arifin Hadi said people need clean water and tarpaulins most of all. He said the agency has sent 20 water trucks to five remote areas, including one village of about 1,200 households.

“People are always saying they need water and tarps,” he said. He also said they’re continuing to look for people with untreated injuries.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.