British Columbia

B.C. mom describes 'mayhem' of Indonesian earthquake that left family stuck on Lombok

It was supposed to be part of a bucket-list trip after Jennifer Montgomery-Lay's daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer — but a B.C. family's stay in Lombok turned into a harrowing tale of survival after a powerful earthquake hit Indonesia.

Vacation was supposed to be part of bucket-list trip for daughter with brain cancer

From left, Brody Lay, Jennifer Montgomery-Lay, Logan Lay, and Jared Lay from maple Ridge, B.C., are stuck on the island of Lombok in Indonesia after a powerful earthquake. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jennifer Montgomery-Lay )

It was supposed to be part of a bucket-list trip for the family after Jennifer Montgomery-Lay's daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer.

But their stay on Lombok turned into a harrowing tale of survival after a powerful earthquake hit Indonesia, leaving the Maple Ridge, B.C., family stuck on the popular tourist island.

Montgomery-Lay said that she, her husband, 14-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter are stuck in Lombok after the 7.0-magnitude quake hit on Sunday evening.

"I was in sheer panic, we all were," Montgomery-Lay, 41, told the Canadian Press on Monday from her hotel. She said no one in her family was injured in the quake.

"We cried. It was all very stressful. But to see the aftermath today is heartbreaking [as] 16 hotel staff have lost their homes."

Death toll likely to increase

The earthquake, which was also felt in the neighbouring island of Bali, flattened houses and caused bridges to collapse. At least 98 people were reported dead as of Monday night.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told the Associated Press that the damage was "massive" in northern Lombok, where the quake was centred, and that more than half the homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

Nugroho said the death toll will increase and that more than 230 people were seriously injured. This was the second deadly quake in a week to strike Lombok. On July 29, a another quake left 16 people dead.

Patients outside a hospital near Denpasar, Bali following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake. (Joahnnes P. Christo/Reuters)

Montgomery-Lay said she and her family have travelled to more than 20 countries since her daughter, Logan Lay, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005, which she has been battling ever since.

Montgomery-Lay started a blog titled "Life All Over the Map" to document Lay's treatment and the family's travels.

"We live in uncertainty every single day, but we also know how lucky we are to be granted borrowed time and we don't want to waste one single second," wrote Montgomery-Lay on the blog's home page.

'We just want to get off Lombok'

Montgomery-Lay said the family has been vacationing in Indonesia for about a month, and that they were in Bali during last week's quake, when they felt the ground shaking.

On Sunday evening, the family had just gotten back to their hotel after dinner and Montgomery-Lay said she was about to organize her daughter's medication when the earthquake struck.

"[It] was mayhem," she said. "Shaking. Parts of the building crumbling. Glass shattering. It started slow, but amped up very quickly."

Montgomery-Lay said parts of the hotel crumbled and glass from a balcony fell on a woman who was swimming in the hotel's pool, cutting her leg.

She said the power went out and her daughter couldn't use one of her medication pumps, but the family is doing OK and a generator brought the power back on. She said the hotel occupants have now been moved to a holding room in the building.

The quake also triggered a tsunami warning. Montgomery-Lay said her hotel is on higher ground so the meeting place when the warning was issued was by the building's main gate. The warning was lifted after only small waves were recorded.

"There are only a few tourists left here. Our family and maybe 10 others," she said. "We just want to get off Lombok."

Montgomery-Lay said she was in touch with the Canadian Consulate in Jakarta, but she was told there was nothing they could do at that point.

"There are no flights and the airport looks like mayhem," she said.

Residents carry gas tanks they recovered from a building damaged by an earthquake on Lombok on Monday. (Associated Press)

A spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada said as of Monday afternoon that the agency has no indication of Canadians being killed or injured in the earthquake.

"We encourage Canadians in Indonesia to contact their family and friends. We are in contact with local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens if needed," she said.

Ferry to Bali

The Bali and Lombok airports have remained open.

Montgomery-Lay said her family hasn't gone to the airport to try to get on a flight for fear of being stuck in the heat with her daughter's health condition.

But she said the family is going to try to get on a ferry to Bali on Tuesday and that their flight back to B.C. is on Aug. 13.

"We think we may attempt that tomorrow, but since we are now evacuated, we don't know."

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