Fresh quakes in Lombok increase need for urgent aid

Strong earthquakes and aftershocks continued to rattle Lombok sending its people, already reeling from the massive destruction in the previous weeks, running scared for their lives. 

Over the past 24 hours, at least a dozen shocks of magnitude 5 have followed on the heels of Sunday's big quakes of 6.3 and 6.9 in East Lombok. The most recent earthquakes come two weeks after a catastrophic series of shocks left 550 dead and most of the island in shambles. So far at least 14 new deaths are reported casued by collapsing buildings and shock.

With nearly 450,000 people still living in camps and under open skies, the loss of life is likely to remain lower as a majority of the population was already displaced from the built up and hilly areas. The government reports put the fresh damage to the housing at around 2,000 homes, and this adds to the nearly 75,000 homes that saw severe destruction earlier.

East Lombok was also one of the districts hit hardest by the previous quakes, with nearly 80% of the buildings having collapsed. The government has warned that structures that still stand may be severely compromised due to the multiple shocks. People are being asked to stay away from buildings - and mountain slopes due to the likelihood of mudslides. Oxfam, working with local partners, is supporting over 10,000 people to survive by providing clean drinking water, tarpaulin shelter sheets, clothes (sarongs) and essential supplies. The partners are providing training and facilities to help the displaced children, women and men to stay clean and safe, and 7000 face masks have been distributed.

“People are shocked, and with each new quake or tremor, they are even more traumatized. You could hear women and children screaming and running for their lives in fear,” says Ancilla Bere, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Response Lead.

She adds, “with such a huge population displaced, the life in the make-shift camps is already very tough. There is little security, privacy, and only meager protection against the elements.

“We are working to provide psychological support to children and women – we’ve reached 400 so far. The need keeps growing, and a lot more needs to be done.

“With multiple shocks, most of the houses and facilities are completely gone, and even many of the standing buildings are likely to be dangerously damaged. People will have to remain in camps until they can safely return. They’ll have to stay in displacement camps for months before that’s possible.

“At the moment, we are focused on providing life-saving essentials and establishing a sense of safety and privacy for women and children.

“We plan to escalate our efforts to reach 30,000 people immediately.”

The latest quake has led to landslides and vast clouds of dust on the slopes of the active volcano Mount Rinjani. In July 16 people died due to an earthquake there. While all Oxfam partners and staff on Lombok are safe, many project sites and their homes have been hit hard.  However, they continue to provide emergency aid to those affected.

Notes to editors

Oxfam local partners include:  Alam, Santai, LBH Apik NTB, KPI NTB, KONSEPSI, KOSLATA, PKBI NTB, Akapela, YLKMP and Aman NTB.

Contact information

Irwan Firdaus, Media Advocacy Officer - Oxfam in Indonesia
Phone: +62 21 7811827; Mobile 62 811 850 6112
Skype: irwanfirdaus
Email: IFirdaus@oxfam.org.uk