At least 14 dead after quake strikes Lombok

AT LEAST 14 people have been killed and another 40 injured after a powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck a popular tourist island in Indonesia.

The quake, which rocked Lombok island early on Sunday morning when many people were still asleep, sent villagers fleeing from their beds and into fields to avoid collapsing buildings.

Video footage showed ambulances lining streets and many houses damaged, with only parts of brick walls standing.

Electricity was cut off in the worst-hit area, Sembalun, a sparsely populated region of rice paddies on the slopes of Mount Rinjani on the northern side of the island.

A 30-year-old Malaysian woman visiting Mount Rinjani, a popular trekking destination, was among those killed, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the disaster mitigation agency spokesperson.

He said the area was temporarily closed to climbers because there were reports of landslides.

"People are gathering on the streets and empty fields to avoid collapsing buildings," he said. "The main focus now is evacuation and rescue. Some of the injured are still being treated at clinics."

An emergency tent was set up on a street in Sembalun to treat the injured because the local hospital was damaged, and those in a critical condition were taken to other hospitals.

"It happened so suddenly at around six in the morning. Suddenly everything simply collapsed," said Siti Sumarni, a Sembalun resident. "My child was inside the house, thankfully he survived."

Standing outside a green tent set up on a dusty field, she said nothing was left of her house.

"We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads," said Jean-Paul Volckaert who runs a hotel near Senggigi on the western side of Lombok.

"I've been walking around but so far there is no damage. We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea. There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds," he told Reuters.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage.

The Lombok quake struck at 6:47am local time on Sunday and was only 4.35 miles deep, a shallow depth that would have amplified its effect.

It was centred 31 miles northeast of the city of Mataram, according to the US Geological Survey, but it was also felt strongly to the west on the neighbouring island of Bali, Indonesia's top tourist destination.

Nearly 80 subsequent tremors were recorded, with the largest aftershock recorded at 5.7-magnitude, Indonesia's Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics Agency said.

The earthquake was on land and did not trigger any waves or tsunamis.

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, which is located on the seismically active "Ring of Fire" that surrounds the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

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