Quakes cut power, topple buildings on Indonesian island
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 night-time 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, was also felt in the neighbouring 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, which 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 epicentre were severely damaged.
A magnitude 7.0 quake that struck Lombok on August 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.