Thousands of Tourists Evacuated from Indonesia’s Gili Islands after Earthquake

MATARAM, Indonesia – Around 7,000 tourists have been evacuated from the Gili archipelago in Indonesia by Tuesday, after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake rocked the area, killing at least 98 people.

The Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, Wiranto, said that the tourists had been transferred to nearby Lombok island – where the epicenter of Sunday night’s tremor was located – and were trying to reach Bali or Jakarta, according to state news agency Antara.

Rescue teams continued searching under the rubble of collapsed buildings for survivors of the powerful earthquake that hit Lombok island on Sunday, causing at least 96 deaths there and two on the neighboring island of Bali.

The spokesperson of the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the teams rescued a survivor from a collapsed mosque in northern Lombok, where 72 deaths have been confirmed so far.

Thousands of tourists have been waiting for flights at Mataram airport, where many foreigners spent the night in the terminal and in corridors.

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Faik Fahmi, director of Angkasa Pura, the company that operates the airport on Lombok, told EFE that there were about 1,000 people staying overnight at the airport and added that they were going to increase traffic so travelers could get to their destinations, including Bali and Jakarta.

On Monday, many flights to and from the island were canceled and others delayed at the airport, which normally sees a daily traffic of around 100 flights.

Fahmi added that the tourists were being provided with food, water and blankets.

The local immigration office said in a statement that seven foreigners – one each from Denmark, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Czech Republic and South Korea – had been injured and admitted to hospital.

Lombok is located east of Bali, Indonesia’s main tourist destination.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that experiences about 7,000 tremors a year, mostly moderate.