At least 82 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the magnitude 7 earthquake that shook the heavily touristic Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday, authorities said.
The USGS Geophysical Institute, which initially evaluated the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.0, revised it to 6.9.
The earthquake, which damaged thousands of buildings, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency, was also felt on the nearby island of Bali.
A tsunami warning, promptly lifted, caused panic among residents who rushed to find a safe place, said the spokesman. “People were panicking … mostly because of the tsunami warning,” he said.
The memory of the 2004 tsunami, which killed 168,000 people in Indonesia, is still very much alive in the archipelago.
Thousands of people were evacuated Sunday on the island to safer places.
Most of the dead were in the mountainous area in northern Lombok, far from the main tourist sites in the south and west of the island.
Lombok is particularly popular with tourists for its beaches and hiking trails.
A first assessment had reported 37 deaths, but the extent of the damage appeared during the night.
The quake came a week after a first earthquake that killed 17 people on the island east of Bali and destroyed hundreds of buildings on Lombok Island.
Sunday’s earthquake occurred 10 km deep, the USGS said.
It was followed by two secondary shocks, one of magnitude 5.4, and twenty replicas.
The epicenter was at sea, 18 kilometers northwest of Lombok.
The spokesman for the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency said many buildings were damaged in Mataram, Lombok’s main city.
“Most of them are buildings built with weak materials,” he said.
Residents of Mataram described a sharp tremor that drove people into the streets, cut off electricity and evacuated patients from the city’s main hospital.
“Everyone came out of the houses immediately, everyone panicked,” Iman, a resident of Mataram, told AFP.
Singapore’s Interior Minister, K. Shanmugam, who was in Lombok for a conference on earthquake safety, described on Facebook how his hotel room on the 10th floor began to shake violently. “Walls were cracking, it was impossible to stand up,” he wrote.
While no tsunami has occurred, seawater has flooded two villages, a local Dwikorita Karnawati TV official told a local agency for disaster management.
A French tourist, Jean Sannier, on vacation on the island of Gili Meno in front of Lombok, told AFP that “the earthquake and four aftershocks were strongly felt,” part of our hotel is destroyed, as dwellings of the island “.
According to him, many French tourists are present on this small island and one of them had a broken leg.
On the nearby island of Bali, locals and tourists ran screaming through the streets.
Bali’s international airport suffered damage to its terminal, but it did not affect air traffic, according to officials at the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency.
The facilities at Lombok Airport were not damaged, but passengers were briefly evacuated from the main terminal.
Indonesia is located on the famous Pacific “belt of fire”, where tectonic plates meet and where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
The 2004 tsunami was triggered by a 9.3 magnitude submarine earthquake off Sumatra (western Indonesia), resulting in a total of 220,000 deaths in countries bordering the Indian Ocean.