Indonesia quake: aid begins to arrive as death toll rises

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The death toll from a powerful quake on the Indonesian island of Lombok rose above 130 on Wednesday, as authorities appealed for food, clean water and medical help for some 156,000 people forced from their homes.

"We estimate the death toll of 131 will keep rising", national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Muhamad Juanda, who narrowly escaped the mosque collapse, said 100 people were praying inside when the earth began to roll.

Some areas still hadn't been reached as of midafternoon, with rescuers battling collapsed bridges, electricity and communication blackouts and damaged roads blocked with debris.

Rescuers are still struggling to reach all of the affected areas and authorities expect the death toll to rise. One boat had docked and within a second it was sinking because there were so many people who were trying to get on it. Almost 2,500 people have been hospitalised with serious injuries. Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones. Window burst, glass everywhere. On Lombok, soldiers and other rescuers carried the injured on stretchers and carpets.

"We've got the people on the ground, experience and know the main thing we need is funding to do what we're trained to do", said Tom Howells of Save The Children. The warning was lifted later Sunday after only small waves were recorded. But he said "we will not give up until we pull him out of this rubble". "Many of us screamed hysterically". Guntur said the food truck had been effective, practical and economical for tourists, noting that its existence will be evaluated for future use. We're all relying on the government to help.

The natural disaster was centered northeast of the city of Mataram on the island of Lombok - a popular tourist destination - 15 kilometers under the surface, said the Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics. "The locals were screaming and shouting and we had no idea as to what was going on".

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The Indonesian Red Cross said it had set up 10 mobile clinics in the north of the island and a field hospital had been established near an evacuation centre catering to more than 500 people in the village of Tanjung.

Across much of the island, once-bustling villages have been turned into virtual ghost towns, with residents sleeping out in the open - scared to stay near their shattered homes amid hundreds of aftershocks. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire - the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim, the BBC reported. In 2004, a quake-driven tsunami off of Aceh province killed 226,000 people in 13 countries across the Indian Ocean, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Aid organisations, already on Lombok after last week's quake, said they were stepping up their humanitarian efforts. "We should appreciate that where we live is safe and sound on the East Coast", said Bosch-Schmits. "Everyone's a bit shaken, but all well, but people out in the villages or elsewhere haven't been so lucky, unfortunately". "Australians have a great love for Bali and Lombok, and this will undoubtedly continue".

He lives two doors away from his aunt, Salama.

However, a local search and rescue official said there had been at least one fatality on the Gilis and several injuries.

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