Jakarta. At least three people died after a powerful 6.4 magnitude quake hit Lombok Island in West Nusa Tenggara on Sunday (29/07), the National Disaster Management Agency, or BNPB, said.
The three victims are from the northern and eastern side of the island, which is popular with foreign tourists. The quake hit early in the morning when many people were still sleeping. Many houses were damaged in the quake.
"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 in 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.
"The people in the villages may have damages. It’s still early morning here."
The quake, which was quickly followed by a magnitude 5.4 aftershock in the same area, was centered in the northern part of the island, 50 kilometer northeast of Mataram, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Many buildings were damaged, said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who posted pictures on Twitter of houses with collapsed roofs and walls.
The quake may have also impacted Mount Rinjani National Park, a popular trekking destination.
"Rinjani mountain climbing is closed temporarily because there are indication of landslide around the mountain," Sutopo said in a statement.
Local news Metro TV reported that people were still sleeping when the first quake hit and they quickly fled their houses in panic. Most of the people were still waiting outside their houses in fear of aftershocks, Metro TV said.
The earthquake struck at 6:47 a.m. on Sunday and was only 7 kilometer deep, a shallow depth that would have amplified its effect. The second struck less than an hour later.
A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC), the European quake agency, put the magnitude at 6.5.
The earthquake was on land and did not trigger any waves or tsunami.
Quakes are common in Indonesia, which is located on the seismically active "Ring of Fire" that surrounds the shores of the Pacific Ocean.