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Aid agencies rush to help survivors of deadly Lombok Earthquakes

The picturesque island next to holiday hotspot Bali was hit by two deadly quakes on July 29 and August 5. On Sunday, it was shaken again by a string of fresh tremors and aftershocks.

Published: 21st August 2018 02:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2018 02:58 PM   |  A+A-

Children cover themselves with towels after a bath near their home destroyed by last week's earthquake in North Lombok, Indonesia. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

SUGIAN: Indonesian aid agencies and government officials rushed Tuesday to help survivors after another series of powerful quakes rattled Lombok island, killing at least 13 people with hundreds of thousands left homeless by the multiple disasters.

The picturesque island next to holiday hotspot Bali was hit by two deadly quakes on July 29 and August 5. On Sunday, it was shaken again by a string of fresh tremors and aftershocks, with the strongest measuring 6.9 magnitude.

At least 13 people were killed on Sunday, mostly by falling debris, according to the national disaster agency.

ALSO READ |  Indonesia Earthquake: Lombok lifted 10 inches by deadly earthquake that killed nearly 400

Drone footage from the village of Sugian, on the hard-hit eastern part of Lombok, showed streets lined with rubble, caved-in roofs and a collapsed mosque.

(Photo | AP)

Aid organisations have vowed to boost humanitarian assistance on the island as devastated residents struggle in makeshift displacement camps.

"We are focussing on the basics, provision of shelter materials -- tarpaulins, shelter kits, hygiene kits," said Tom Howells from Save the Children.

"We have shipped enough for about 20,000 people over the past two weeks," he told AFP.

Indonesia's disaster agency said it was also accelerating efforts to rebuild destroyed homes, hospitals and schools.

ALSO READ | Five dead as multiple earthquakes rock Indonesia's Lombok island

However, relief agencies fret that access to food, shelter and clean water is insufficient for some of the more than 430,000 displaced by the disaster.

"There has been damage to the water infrastructure which is already quite poor in Lombok due to a lack of ground supply and drought conditions," Howells said.

Tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok had already been destroyed by the 6.9-magnitude quake on August 5 that killed at least 481 people.

IN PICTURES | Indonesia: Earthquakes across Lombok Island kills hundreds, render thousands homeless

A week before that quake, a tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

Most people caught in the latest tremor had been outside their homes or at shelters when it struck which limited casualties, authorities have said.

Rebuilding costs are estimated to top seven trillion rupiah ($480 million).

However, the disaster agency said Tuesday that the quakes would not be labelled a national emergency, which would unlock the central government's four trillion-rupiah disaster relief fund.

Motorists ride past a road torn apart by Sunday's earthquake in Gangga, Lombok Island. (Photo | AP)

While the idea was gaining support in some quarters, the agency's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said it would "show weakness" from a country regularly hit by natural disasters. 

"We want to show the world that we are capable in handling the quakes -- we are strong in responding to disasters," he told reporters in Jakarta.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

The Australian and Eurasian plates, which sit under the archipelago, have been colliding and putting stress on key area fault lines, according geologists.

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