On August 5th, Lombok, Indonesia was struck with a powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake, leaving residents and tourists homeless and in shock as far away as Bali.
With rescuers still sweeping through collapsed buildings and rubble, at least 98 people are confirmed dead and over 200 severely injured. More than half the homes on Lombok are estimated to be destroyed on this idyllic along the Indonesian island chain.
The island of Lombok sits just east of Bali and both represent popular tourist destinations for people around the world. While people worked tirelessly to evacuate tourists and residents via ships and planes, rescue efforts on the island are slow and difficult. Severely destroyed roads, collapsed bridges, power outages, and the proportion of damaged or destroyed buildings makes the rescue process tedious and logistically difficult.
In total, officials estimate that 20,000 people were displaced by the earthquake yesterday and although the government has given the green light to return to their homes, many people remain in shelters afraid to return home. This could be, in part, due to the continued aftershocks in the day following this earthquake.
Tourists visiting the Gili Islands, a popular location for diving and snorkeling, lined up waiting on ships to evacuate them from the vulnerable tiny islands.
Geologic Overview Of The Indonesia Earthquake
The USGS puts the earthquake at a magnitude 6.9, with several aftershocks. The earthquake epicenter sits on the primarily residential northern side of Pulau Lombok, Indonesia, with most tourists staying in the southern end. The earthquake resulted from a shallow thrust fault at 31 kilometers deep. The fault is located on The Flores Back Arc Thrust where the Sunda and Australia plates are converging along an east-west zone just south of the Indonesian islands.
The two plates converge at a rate of 77 millimeters per year, causing regular large magnitude earthquakes. In the past century, this region has experienced six magnitude 6.5 earthquakes or larger, responsible for numerous deaths, injuries, and destruction.
Much of southeast Asia sits on the Sunda plate, including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, western Philippines, etc. The tectonically active southern boundary of the plate often triggers earthquakes as it jostles with the Australian plate to the south.
Above is the shakemap created by the USGS showing the strongest shaking occurring on Lombok and dissipating outward. Shaking was felt on the nearby island of Bali and Java.