Five South Africans survive deadly Indonesia natural disaster

REUTERS  Beawiharta

Rescuers in Lombok are pulling people alive from the rubble two days after a devastating quake struck the Indonesian island, while thousands left homeless in the worst-affected areas continue to wait for aid to arrive.

Quake-stricken residents of Lombok island in central Indonesia are reeling from two powerful earthquakes that struck the island in just a week, as a search-and-rescue operation was under way to look for more casualties trapped under the debris of collapsed buildings.

The military said five planes carrying food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers left the capital, Jakarta, for the island early on Wednesday.

Rescuers resumed their search for survivors‚ and started the recovery of bodies in the rubble of houses‚ mosques and schools after the most recent quake.

There were fears the death toll would rise as workers with heavy machinery shifted rubble at a collapsed mosque.

Almost 1,500 people have been injured, with 156,000 displaced after the tremors caused extensive damage to their homes. "We hope the victims will have some help and relief over there right away".

The hotel where they were staying, which Montgomery-Lay said is about 40 kilometres from the epicentre of the quake, was evacuated for most of Sunday night so staff could ensure it's was structurally sound.

"We can help tourists to get to the airport but of course we can't buy them tickets for free", he said, adding that authorities were providing free accommodation, food and transport to those in need.

Global charity Oxfam said drinking water was scarce because of a recent spell of extremely dry weather in Lombok. Tens of thousands were left homeless when the ground shook for the second time in two weeks.

Videos showed screaming people running in panic from a shopping mall and a neighborhood in Bali where parked vehicles swayed.

So far, up to 2,700 tourists have been moved from the Gili Island. "We ran out into the street and a friend and I stood in the parking area hanging on to a parked vehicle which was also swaying severely", said retiree Deborah Storck, who was about to eat dinner at a restaurant on Lombok's west coast when the quake hit.

"We weren't allowed to go back to our hotel until this afternoon".

"It took many hours but we're thankful it worked and this person was found alive".

"Unfortunately another natural disaster struck Lombok the following day".

The shocks Sunday followed a 6.4 -magnitude quake on July 29, leaving emergency crews to deal with the fallout of two massive disasters just seven days apart.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains.

A mother bath her daughter in a bucket after their home in Sembalun Bumbung was destroyed by the Lombok quake.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire, " an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Ocean Basin.

The Bali and Lombok airports have stayed open.

The natural disaster, which was also felt in the neighbouring island of Bali, flatted houses, caused bridges to collapse and killed at least 98 people.



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