Five people have died on Lombok in a strong earthquake that set off a series of mudslides, cut power across the Indonesian island and destroyed buildings as the community tries to recover from quakes earlier this month that killed more than 450 people.
The shallow magnitude-6.9 quake that hit just after 10pm local time on Sunday was one of multiple powerful earthquakes in the northeast of the island that also caused landslides. It was preceded by a 6.3-magnitude quake in the afternoon and then followed by strong aftershocks.
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The quakes, in the Sembalun district on the north east of the island, caused panic, but many people were already staying in tents following the deadly quake in early August.
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 hadn’t collapsed so far suffered repeated stress, and authorities have urged people to avoid both the mountain’s slopes and weakened buildings.
The quake lasted five to 10 seconds and also was felt in the neighbouring islands of Bali and Sumbawa and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi. Tourists and villagers in Bali ran out of buildings in panic.
The disaster agency said one person died from a heart attack during the biggest of the daytime quakes and nearly 100 houses near the epicenter were severely damaged.
A magnitude 7.0 quake that struck Lombok on 5 August killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people.
Mount Rinjani has been closed to visitors following a 29 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.