Earthquakes in Lombok Island, Indonesia

Two moderate earthquakes which hit Lombok Island, Indonesia on March 17 resulted in a landslide that killed two Malaysians and injured more than 30 domestic and foreign tourists.


The two Malaysians were identified as Sin Chew Daily’s deputy executive editor-in-chief, Datin Tai Siew Kim and Mrs Lim Sai Wah, according to the Malaysian embassy.


The disaster was not the first to strike the island known for tourists’ choice of vacation, and definitely would not be the last, if one were to take into account Indonesia’s long list of earthquake history.


The most recent series of strong earthquakes in Lombok dated back to last year, when a magnitude of 6.4 earthquake struck the island on the morning of July 29 at a shallow depth of 14 km, killing 20 people and injuring hundreds more.


The epicentre of the quake was 50km north-east of the city of Mataram, which has a population of 319,000.


Malaysia Indicator, Indonesia, earthquake


More than 100 aftershocks followed in the next four hours after the quake, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported.


A more powerful shock hit the island a week later (Aug 5), with a magnitude of 7.0 that displaced 8,871 people and damaged 14,940 houses.


Malaysia Indicator, Indonesia, earthquake


Initial damage reports accounted North Lombok and the three Gili islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – as the most affected areas.


Next, the following August 19 witnessed another magnitude of 6.9 earthquake striking Lombok and causing people to panic and flee from their homes.


The tremors were also felt in neighbouring Bali and Sumbawa, and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi.


In the aftermath of the three earthquakes, a total of 563 people were confirmed killed, more than 1,000 were injured, 417,000 were displaced, and 80% of structures in Lombok were destroyed.


Barely recovered from the three destructive nature strikes, the earthquake-triggered landslide in March this year also trapped 40 tourists visiting Tiu Kelep waterfall in Senaru Village, north of Lombok.


Malaysia Indicator, Indonesia, earthquake


Tourists choose Lombok as their holiday destination mainly because of its stunning beaches.


Before the quake in March, the tourism industry on the island got back on its feet in January with the beaches cleared of rubble, and the streets repaved.


However, the number of tourists plummeted from 3,000 people each year to 900, while the number of foreign tourists dropped from 10,000 a month to only 3,000.


The March earthquake is now almost one-month old, will the tourism in Lombok ever get back its glory?