Death toll reaches 14 after 6.4 earthquake hits Indonesia island

The quake hit Lombok island early in the morning when many people were still sleeping.
by Associated Press /  / Updated  / Source: Reuters
Image: INDONESIA-QUAKE
This handout photograph taken on July 29, 2018 and released by the Nusa Tenggara Barat Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) show a person scrambling over the collapsed ruins of a house as others look on following an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia.HANDOUT / AFP - Getty Images

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JAKARTA — A powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the popular tourist destination of Lombok in Indonesia on Sunday, killing 14 people and damaging many buildings, authorities said.

The quake hit Lombok island early in the morning when many people were still sleeping. Around 160 people were injured and many fled into open fields away from collapsed buildings.

"We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads," said Jean-Paul Volckaert who was woken by the quake while sleeping in the Puncak Hotel near Senggigi on Lombok.

"I’ve been walking around but so far there is no damage. We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea. There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds," he told Reuters via telephone early Sunday. "The people in the villages may have damages."

Image: Damage is seen following an earthquake in Lombok
Damage is seen following an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia, July 29, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media.Lalu Onank / Social Media via REUTERS

The quake was centered 31 miles northeast of the city of Mataram on the northern part of Lombok island, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

An official from Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency says East Lombok district was the hardest hit with 10 death. He says the number of casualties could increase as data was still being collected from other locations on the island.

A Malaysian tourist visiting the popular trekking destination of Mount Rinjani on Lombok was among those killed, according to East Lombok police M. Eka Fathurrahman.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the disaster mitigation agency spokesman, posted on Twitter pictures of houses with collapsed roofs and walls.

"People are gathering on the streets and empty fields to avoid collapsing buildings," he said.

"The main focus now is evacuation and rescue. Some of the injured are still being treated at clinics."

Around 66 quakes were recorded after the initial 6.4 magnitude tremor, with the largest aftershock recorded at 5.7 magnitude, said the disaster mitigation agency.

The major quake was felt on the neighboring island of Bali, Indonesia's top tourist destination.

The quake forced authorities to close the Mount Rinjani national park. "Rinjani mountain climbing is closed temporarily because there are indication of landslide around the mountain," Nugroho, said in a statement.

The earthquake struck at 6:47 a.m. on Sunday local time (7.47 p.m. Saturday ET) and was only 4.35 miles deep, a shallow depth that would have amplified its effect.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the European quake agency, put the magnitude at 6.5.

The earthquake was on land and did not trigger any waves or tsunami. Lombok is the next island east of Bali.

Quakes are common in Indonesia, which is located on the seismically active "Ring of Fire" that surrounds the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

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