Af­ter In­done­sia quake, a new worry: deadly af­ter­shocks

Waterloo Region Record - - Canada & World - TODD PITMAN AND NINIEK KARMINI

MATARAM, IN­DONE­SIA — Af­ter a deadly earth­quake dev­as­tated the In­done­sian is­land of Lom­bok last week­end, Husni Han­dayani thought the worst was over.

The pow­er­ful quake claimed hun­dreds of lives, wounded thou­sands more and dis­placed over 270,000 peo­ple. But it left her own home in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, Mataram, still stand­ing and no­body in her fam­ily was harmed.

On Thurs­day, though, a strong af­ter­shock shook the walls of Han­dayani’s kitchen, prompt­ing the preg­nant 27-year-old to run out­side in a panic. On a curb out­side, she tripped and fell, glimps­ing blood on her clothes be­fore black­ing out.

“When I woke up ... I was in the hospi­tal, and my (un­born) child was gone,” Han­dayani said, weep­ing as she told her story Fri­day in a green tent set up to house pa­tients be­cause it was con­sid­ered un­safe to treat them in­side.

While the 7.0 mag­ni­tude quake that struck Lom­bok on Aug. 5 caused wide­spread dam­age and ca­su­al­ties that will never be for­got­ten here, an in­ces­sant wave of af­ter­shocks is fu­elling a sense that the cri­sis is far from over — and that the worst may be yet to come.

Ac­cord­ing to dis­as­ter agency spokesper­son Su­topo Purwo Nu­groho, of­fi­cials have recorded a stag­ger­ing 450 af­ter­shocks since Sun­day. Be­fore that, an­other strong quake on July 29 had al­ready shaken Lom­bok, killing 16 peo­ple.

Seis­mic ac­tiv­ity is com­mon­place across the In­done­sian ar­chi­pel­ago, which is home to more ac­tive vol­ca­noes than any­where else on Earth. The coun­try strad­dles the so-called “Ring of Fire,” an arc of vol­ca­noes and fault lines that stretch across the Pa­cific Basin. A mag­ni­tude 9.1 earth­quake off the In­done­sian is­land of Su­ma­tra in 2004 spawned a tsunami that killed 230,000 peo­ple in a dozen coun­tries.

Thurs­day’s af­ter­shock, rated at 6.2 by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and 5.9 by the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, buried four peo­ple in north­ern Lom­bok, Su­topo said.

At least two dozen peo­ple were in­jured, in­clud­ing 17 who were still be­ing treated Fri­day at West Nusa Teng­gara Pro­vin­cial Gen­eral Hospi­tal in Mataram.

The mid­day quake was so strong it rocked a six-story In­done­sian naval ship that was treat­ing wounded sur­vivors off­shore, caus­ing civil­ians and crew to scurry off an ad­ja­cent con­crete dock that had al­ready cracked apart.

The quake split apart roads near the coast and sparked land­slides that cut off routes used by emer­gency med­i­cal work­ers and res­cue crews who are still try­ing to clear rub­ble and re­cover the dead. At least one res­cue team with ex­ca­va­tors had to sus­pend its work af­ter the quake.

Ab­dul Hakim, a 48-year-old welder in Tan­jung, a hard-hit vil­lage, said his home was dam­aged by Sun­day’s quake and he had been sleep­ing out­doors with his fam­ily in a makeshift tent since then. Tired of liv­ing like a refugee and bit­ten by mos­qui­toes, he said he was just about to re­turn home.

But Thurs­day’s quake de­stroyed his house, which com­pletely col­lapsed, he said. “It forced us back to this (tented) shel­ter again,” he said. “We will try to sur­vive ... we don’t have a choice.”

Jami­lah, a mother of two in an­other vil­lage, Gubug Baru, said “one or two” houses in her vil­lage were still stand­ing be­fore Thurs­day’s tremor flat­tened them all.

In Mataram, sev­eral build­ings col­lapsed in clouds of dust and some shops closed. Sev­eral ho­tels sent ter­ri­fied staff home for the day.

Han­dayani, who had been nearly three months preg­nant, said an­other strong quake had been the last thing she’d ex­pected.

As her hus­band, Hasanud­din Noer, pat­ted her back to calm her, Han­dayani said: “We’ve been try­ing for four years to have a child. This was very painful.”


A boy cries while re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at an emer­gency hospi­tal in Lom­bok Is­land, In­done­sia, on Fri­day.

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