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  1. ITV Report

British tourist describes 'terrifying' earthquake which killed dozens on Indonesian island

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers

A British tourist has described the "terrifying" scenes as a deadly earthquake hit an Indonesian holiday island on Sunday night.

At least 91 people have been killed, with hundreds injured and more missing, following the quake on Lombok, which shook neighbouring Bali.

James Kelsall, a 28-year-old from Woodford Green in London, had been visiting nearby island Gili Trawangan with his partner, Helen.

The couple became stranded after a magnitude 7.0 quake laid waste to Lombok and the surrounding area - in the second quake they had experienced during their holiday.

Makeshift tents are erected for those affected by the earthquake in Sembalun, Lombok Island. Credit: AP

Speaking from a beach as he awaited evacuation, the teacher said: "There were lots of injuries and pain on the island from buildings that had collapsed onto people.

"The most terrifying part was the tsunami warning that followed.

"All the locals were frantically running and screaming, putting on life jackets.

"We followed them up to higher ground, which was a steep, uneven climb to the top of a hill in darkness."

Authorities said on Monday that rescuers still had not reached some hard-hit areas and the death toll could climb.

tourists affected by a strong earthquake line up on a beach as they wait to be evacuated on Gili Trawangan Island. Credit: AP

The ground started shaking, it was difficult to stand.

There was rumbling and then all the power went off. We ran to the beach to be clear of buildings which we could hear falling all around.

It was literally the most terrifying thing I have experienced and the uncertainty of the tsunami, I had pictures of Thailand in my head from when it happened there.

– British tourist James Kelsall

It was the second deadly quake in a week to hit Lombok. On July 29 16 people were killed and hundreds of houses damaged, some of which collapsed during Sunday's earthquake, killing those inside.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference damage was “massive” in the north of Lombok.

Some areas still had not been reached, with rescuers hampered by collapsed bridges, electricity blackouts and damaged roads blocked with debris.

He said the death toll had risen to 91 and more than 200 people were seriously injured. Thousands of homes and buildings were damaged.

Houses damaged by the earthquake in North Lombok, Indonesia. Credit: Sidik Hutomo/AP

The quake, measured at 7.0 magnitude by Indonesian authorities, struck early on Sunday evening at a depth of 10.5km (six miles) in the northern part of Lombok.

James Kelsall described the situation as "completely chaotic", adding more than 1,000 tourists were stranded.

"The rescue services are doing a good job but it's very stressful, lots of locals are frantic and climbing onto the boats, some men are being physically kicked by the police/navy in charge."

The quake hit during the last night of their stay on the island, which came just days after a similar disaster.

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"We were in the first earthquake, which was terrifying but much less than this one," he said.

On Lombok, soldiers and other rescuers carried injured people on stretchers and carpets to evacuation centres. Many victims were treated outdoors because hospitals were damaged.

“People panicked and scattered on the streets and buildings and houses that had been damaged by the previous earthquake had become more damaged and collapsed,” Mr Sutopo said.

Tourists walk through the streets as they leave an area heavily damaged by the earthquake in Tanjung, Lombok Island. Credit: AP

The quake triggered a tsunami warning and frightened people poured out of their homes to move to higher ground, particularly in North Lombok and Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province.

The warning was lifted after waves just 15cm centimeters (6in) high were recorded in three villages, said Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

“I was watching TV when I felt a big shake,” said Harian, a Lombok woman who gave one name. “The lamp was shaking, and people were shouting ‘Get out’. I ran out into the dark because the power cut off.”

Medics treat the injured following the earthquake Credit: AP

One British tourist desperately scrambled up a tree owhen tsunami warnings sounded, a relative said.

Katy Flay, 33, had been on holiday in the area with her 29-year-old partner Stef, according to her brother.

The tourist, from Leeds, had been on the phone as the quake struck. Brother Ash Flay said: "It's been an absolute nightmare, I received a phone call from Katy whilst the earthquake was happening, she was distressed - crying and screaming.

"All I could hear was crashes, she then called again and said a tsunami warning is out and she's climbed a tree, doesn't know what's happening and then she was un-contactable for two hours.

"Katy climbed up one of the trees and then somebody kicked her out of it so she had to climb another one, and injured her foot when she was running to high ground during the tsunami warning.

"It was the worst two hours of my life."

Workers remove the debris at a building damaged by an earthquake in Bali. Credit: AP

Ms Flay told her brother authorities were demanding money from tourists before allowing them aboard rescue boats.

In a message, she wrote: "We have tried to get on many boats. "Boats (are) leaving half empty as you need a ticket... no boats for everyone just selected people.

"People are punching and hitting each other."

She added: "Lombok is very dangerous... people are looting the island."

Her brother told the Press Association: "The subsequent rescue effort from Gili Trawangan has been nothing short of a disgrace, they're not boarding foreigners unless they have money."

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On Gili Trawangan, one of three popular vacation islands near Lombok, thousands of tourists and locals spent the night on a hill fearing a tsunami, said British visitor Saffron Amis.

“There was a lot of screaming and crying, particularly from the locals,” said Ms Amis, from Brighton.

“We spoke to a lot of them and they were panicking about their family in Lombok. It was just a lot of panic because no one knew what was happening.”

Thousands of people are now trying to get off the island, she said, describing the mood as both sombre and panicked.

While hundreds of foreign tourists were stranded at Lombok International Airport as they wait for flights off the island.

Many of them were seen sleeping on the floor of the airport terminal on Monday evening.

A joint search and rescue team was evacuating hundreds of tourists from three popular vacation islands off the northwest of Lombok.

Mr Sutopo said there were no fatalities among the local and foreign holidaymakers.

Australia’s home affairs minister tweeted that he and his delegation were safely evacuated in darkness from a Lombok hotel where they have been staying during a regional security conference.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Fairfax Media that he was on the hotel’s 12th floor when the quake struck.

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He said the quake “was powerful enough to put us on the floor” and cut power.

The Bali and Lombok airports continued operating on Sunday night, according to the director general of civil aviation.

There had been a half-hour evacuation at the Lombok airport following the quake because the electricity went off. TV showed crying women consoling each other outside Lombok’s airport.

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Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.