Tourists flee as powerful earthquake kills at least 98 on Indonesia's Lombok

Daybreak revealed chaos and destruction across the Indonesian resort island of Lombok on Monday after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake killed at least 98 people and prompted an exodus of tourists rattled by the second powerful quake in a week.

Death toll expected to rise, no reports of Canadians among the deceased

Makeshift tents are erected on Monday to be used as a temporary shelter for those affected by an earthquake in Sembalun. (Adrial Pranandi/Associated Press)

Rescue workers found chaos and destruction across the Indonesian resort island of Lombok on Monday after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake killed at least 98 people and prompted an exodus of tourists rattled by the second powerful quake in a week.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said the death toll was expected to rise as information came in from areas where thousands of buildings collapsed or were badly damaged, especially in the north, the quake's epicentre.

Power and communications were cut in some areas of Lombok, and the military said it was sending in a vessel with medical aid, supplies and logistical support for the island.

The Indonesian Red Cross said in a tweet that it helped a woman give birth after the quake at a health post in the north. One of the names she gave the baby boy was Gempa, which means earthquake.

120 aftershocks

Lombok was hit a week earlier, on July 29, by a 6.4 magnitude quake that killed 17 people, injured hundreds and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.

The Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) said more than 120 aftershocks were recorded after Sunday evening's quake, whose magnitude the U.S. Geological Survey revised down to 6.9 from an original 7.0.

There were no foreigners among the dead and the number of injured stood at 209, BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference.

See some of the images from the aftermath of the quake.

A powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the popular tourist island of Lombok in Indonesia, killing dozens 0:57

The tremor was so powerful it was felt on the neighbouring island of Bali where, according to BNPB, two people died.

In a statement issued Monday, Global Affairs Canada offered condolences to everyone affected in the quake.  

"To date, we have no reports of any Canadian citizens being affected," the statement said. "We are in contact with local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens if needed."

'Heartbreaking' situation

Jennifer Montgomery-Lay, of Maple Ridge, B.C., was in Lombok with her family when the quake hit.

"It is such a crazy feeling," she said. 'You don't really know what's happening."

The trip was a big one for her family, she said, as her 21-year-old daughter is dealing with her fourth recurrence of cancer in 13 years.

She said people working at the hotel — including 16 staff members who "have completely lost everything" — rallied around each other and their guests. Montgomery-Lay said she was amazed at how resilient, compassionate and committed the people who live and work in the hard-hit community have been.

"It really struck us today that we're racing to get out of here, and to get home to safety. And there are hundreds of thousands of people that this is home, they have nowhere to go," she said, later describing the situation for people who live on the island as "heartbreaking." 

Extra flights added

Indonesia sits on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Long lines formed at the airport of Lombok's main town, Mataram, as foreign visitors cut their holidays short. The Garuda Indonesia airline said it was adding extra flights from Lombok to help tourists leave.

Residents carry gas tanks they recovered from a building damaged by the quake. Authorities on Monday said thousands of houses were damaged and the death toll could climb. (Associated Press)

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted that the budget airline would try to lay on extra flights, while Indonesian budget carriers Lion Air and Citilink said there had been a jump in demand for outbound flights from Lombok and Bali.

"I was at the rooftop of my hotel and the building started swaying very hard. It felt like two metres to the left, then two metres to the right, I could not stand up," said Gino Poggiali, a 43-year-old Frenchman, who was with his wife and two children, at the Lombok airport.

'This is it for me in Indonesia'

His wife Maude, 44, said the family were on Bali for the first quake and Lombok for the second.

"This is it for me in Indonesia," she said. "Next time we will stay in France or somewhere close."

The quake heavily damaged this home in Pemenang, North Lombok. (Ahmad Subaidi/Antara Foto via Reuters)

Carlos Romartinez, a 24-year-old Spaniard who was also waiting for a flight out of Lombok, said he had decided to head instead to the island of Flores to the east.

"All the activities are shut down. We can't dive, we can't do anything so we will go to another island," he said.

'We're just not in the mood anymore'

Dutch tourist Marc Ganbuwalba injured his knee as a stampede of diners rushed from a restaurant after the quake.

"We are cutting short our holiday because I can't walk and we're just not in the mood anymore, more in the mood to see our loved ones," said the 26-year-old, sitting on a trolley with his leg bandaged.

Foreign tourists queue to leave Lombok Island at Lombok International Airport. The Garuda Indonesia airline said it was adding extra flights. (Beawiharta/Reuters)

"We are just thankful to God and also to the hotel staff who really helped us. Some of them said their own houses had been destroyed but they were still helping us."

About 1,000 foreign and domestic tourists were evacuated in boats from the three Gili islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, BNPB spokesperson Nugroho said via Twitter.

'Everyone's a bit shaken'

He posted a video showing a crowd of hundreds of people crammed on a beach at one of the Gilis, apparently waiting to be ferried back to the main island.

Singapore Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was on the 10th floor of a hotel in Mataram when the quake struck, said that his room shook violently and walls cracked.

"It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams. Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking. Power went out for a while. Lots of cracks, fallen doors," he wrote on Facebook.

His government issued a travel notice, advising citizens to defer travel to Lombok and urging those currently there to leave.

Australia's Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton was on the 12th floor of a Lombok hotel at the time of the quake.

"We were knocked certainly to the floor," he told Australian radio. "We were pretty lucky to get out. Everyone's a bit shaken but all well."

On Monday, Pope Francis expressed sadness over the loss of life and destruction of property caused by Indonesia's quakes.

In a telegram, Francis also offered his "heartfelt solidarity" for those affected. The message said he was praying for the souls of the dead and for "the consolation of all who grieve the loss of their loved ones."

Francis also invoked "divine blessings of consolation and strength" upon Indonesia's people, and offered encouragement to rescuers and others assisting victims.

With files from CBC News