FG condoles Indonesia over natural disaster

Foreign tourists wait for transportation after arriving from the nearby Gili islands at the port in Bangsal northern Lombok island on August 6. ─ AFP

Foreign tourists wait for transportation after arriving from the nearby Gili islands at the port in Bangsal northern Lombok island on August 6. ─ AFP

About 75 percent of the north has been without electricity since Sunday, officials said, and some communities were hard to reach because bridges were damaged and trees, rocks and sand lay across roads cracked wide open in places by the tremor.

"First we used our hands to clear the debris, then hammers, chisels and machines to slowly remove the pieces", Marcos Eric, a volunteer rescue worker from a mining company, told Reuters after an ambulance had taken the woman away.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the "Ring of Fire", an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. "We advise people to come down and move closer to the camps".

But disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement the information from those sources was incomplete and hadn't been cross-checked for duplication.

The tremor struck as evening prayers were being said across the Muslim-majority island and there are fears that one collapsed mosque in north Lombok had been filled with worshippers.

Australian diplomats are working with the Indonesian navy to evacuate about 150 Australians still stranded on Gili Islands after the Lombok quake.

The agency also said 132 aftershocks had been recorded. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 natural disaster off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Hundreds of tourists and workers were still struggling to get off three outlying resort islands where power was cut off and hotels and hostels were damaged.

Saffron Amis, a British student on Gili Trawangan - the largest of the islands that are fringed by white beaches and surrounded by turquoise sea - said there were at least 200 people stranded there and others were still arriving from the other two, Gili Air and Gili Meno.

More than 70,000 people have been left homeless in the deadly quake that hit Lombok island, forced to sleep in makeshift shelters and lacking food, medicine and clean water, authorities said Wednesday.

Rescuers heard a weak voice coming from under the wreckage of a nearby two-storey mosque, where four people were believed to have been trapped when the building pancaked.

Riduan, a 45-year-old man whose house was partially destroyed, said he had received no assistance and had bought food himself.

Aid agency Oxfam said it was providing clean drinking water and tarpaulin shelters to 5,000 survivors, but the needs were much greater.

Water, which has been in short supply due to a prolonged dry spell on the island, as well as food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks.

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