Lombok: Traumatised Survivors Opt For Open Spaces

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By Mohd Shukri Ishak

Bernama’s correspondent Mohd Shukri Ishak shares his take from Jakarta, Indonesia.

JAKARTA, Aug 9 (Bernama) -- The people of Lombok are still shaken by the aftershocks that continue to occur on the island, following the two major earthquakes that took place in July and August.

Weary and traumatised victims have headed for the fields and open spaces, opting to spend the night under the stars in the attempt to get more restful sleep without the fear of structures caving down on them.

The 7-magnitude earthquake that struck Lombok on Aug 5 not only shook the entire island but also the nearby islands of Sumbawa and Bali and East Java as well.

The earthquake took place at 6.46 pm local time at 27 km northeast of North Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara.

At the time of writing this article, over 100 people have been reported dead. The number is expected to rise as the search for victims carry on amid crumbled ruins of buildings and houses.

Thousands of structures have been reported damaged by the earthquakes.

The earthquake on Aug 5 followed a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that shook the island on July 29, which killed 17 people including Malaysian Siti Nur Ismawida Ismail.

Following the second earthquake, the Malaysian media quoted the Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah as saying that all hands were on deck to bring home the over 190 Malaysians currently on the island, who were all currently reported to be safe.

Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that the people of Lombok Island were still too scared to go into homes or buildings due to the ongoing aftershocks.

"The evacuation teams are still searching for victims that may be trapped in the ruins of buildings and homes. The loss due to property damage is estimated to be at Rp1 trillion (about RM283 million).

"The victims are in dire need of medical aid, food, clean water and blankets at the moment,” said Sutopo.

Based on the data by the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, the country experiences earthquakes every day with an average of 6,000 earthquakes a year.

Indonesia’s experience with earthquakes have made them more involved as a nation in rebuilding the lives of those affected by it.

News presenters would not only present the news but also pray for the victims and call out to viewers to actively participate in providing aid.

Even Indonesia’s Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman has announced that he would be donating a year’s worth of salary for a fund set up by his ministry to aid the victims.

“I am donating a year of my salary to the victims because of an incident my family and I went through in the year 2000, when our house was burned down and we had to use a tree for shelter. At the time, we would have been grateful for any amount of help given,” said Amran, as quoted by the Indonesia media.

A Malaysian friend of this writer who is currently in Lombok shared his view of the resilience of earthquake victims there.

“Their will to rise and rebuild their lives after the earthquake is so strong. We can only imagine how hard this entire ordeal must be for them. Therefore, any kind of assistance would mean a lot to them,” he said.

Edited and translated by Sakina Mohamed

-- BERNAMA