NATURAL DISASTER

Over 150 Spaniards affected by earthquake in Indonesia

Tourists on island of Lombok say they jumped into the hotel swimming pool to avoid falling debris

People attempting to leave Gili Trawangan, north of neighbouring Lombok island.
People attempting to leave Gili Trawangan, north of neighbouring Lombok island.AFP

Over 150 Spaniards have been affected by the earthquake that shook the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday, killing at least 91 people. Hundreds more were injured in the quake, while tens of thousands of homes have been leveled after being shaken by an earlier tremor on July 29.

Dozens of tourists are at Mataram airport, where local authorities have been organizing passengers by nationality, according to one Spanish traveler.

I think I have a broken toe, and I’ve seen lots of people with twisted ankles and bruises

José María Sánchez, survivor

“Those of us from the European Union are traveling together,” said José María Sánchez, 39, who is from Málaga in southern Spain.

Sánchez noted that some of his fellow passengers have sustained minor injuries from falling objects during the tremor, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and also shook neighboring Bali. “I think I have a broken toe, and I’ve seen lots of people with twisted ankles and bruises,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Spanish embassy in Indonesia has confirmed that it has been in touch with over 150 Spaniards since the beginning of the evacuation. “Spaniards in Bali and those planning to travel shortly must wait and follow the recommendations of Indonesian authorities,” said embassy officials in a Twitter message.

Sánchez was in Senggigi, the main tourist area on Lombok, an island that competes for visitors with its much larger and more famous sister Bali. The quake hit during peak tourist season, when the hotels are at capacity and the streets filled with travelers and street vendors.

“We were around 300 meters from the beach. We had just arrived at the hotel when the first tremor hit, the strongest one of all. The building shook and rubble began to rain down,” he explained.

The swimming pool was the only spot without a ceiling, so Sánchez jumped in, along with other guests. Following the earthquake, he says that the hotel personnel disappeared and the tourists organized their own survival with help from local residents. Sánchez said he spent the night in an open field with other tourists, and in the morning he took a bus to the airport.

The spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said that around a thousand tourists have been evacuated by boat from the islands of Air, Meno and Gili Trawangan, to the northwest of Lombok.

More information