Some 900 tourists were being evacuated from Indonesia’s tiny Gili Islands on Monday after a powerful quake struck neighbouring Lombok, killing 91 people and injuring hundreds.
The Gilis are three coral-fringed tropical islands a few kilometres off the northwest coast of the larger Lombok island that are popular with backpackers and divers.
National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters some 200 “domestic and foreign” tourists had already been taken off the islands.
“There are 700 more tourists still waiting to be evacuated,” he said, adding some hotels had been damaged by the quake.
Lombok, a volcanic island that towers over the flatter Gilis, bore the brunt of Sunday’s quake, with the vast majority of deaths occurring there.
However, a local search and rescue official said there had been at least one fatality on the Gilis and several injuries.
“One Indonesian tourist died in Gili Meno, several were injured, mostly suffering from broken bones,” rescue official Agus Hendra Sanjaya told AFP, referencing the middle island.
The 6.9 magnitude tremor, which triggered panic among tourists and locals on Sunday evening, was also felt on the bustling island of Bali, one of Southeast Asia’s leading tourist destinations.
At least one person was killed by falling debris and dozens of buildings and temples were damaged on the majority-Hindu island, said I Wayan Karnawan, the head of the local disaster mitigation agency in Bangli regency.
The main tourist areas of Lombok in the south and west of the island appear to have been spared the worst of the damage.
Lombok’s beaches and hiking trails draw holidaymakers from around the world.
But some afraid tourists were already trying to leave.
A French tourist, who gave his name as Jina, told local broadcaster Metro TV, he had tried to rush to Lombok’s main airport.
“But there was no taxi, no transport, no plan for evacuation.”
“Later I stopped a car and I asked a local please take me and my family to the airport and he said ‘okay no problem’.”
Most of the victims in the latest disaster died in the north and east of Lombok. Thousands of people were evacuated to outside shelters.
Bali’s international airport suffered damage to its terminal but the runway was unaffected and operations had returned to normal, disaster agency officials said.
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