Quakes cut power, topple buildings on Indonesian island

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In this July 30, 2018, file photo, Indonesian soldiers and rescue teams gather to prepare for evacuating tourists from Mount Rinjani, seen in the background, at Sembalun in East Lombok, Indonesia. (AP Photo)
In this July 30, 2018, file photo, Indonesian soldiers and rescue teams gather to prepare for evacuating tourists from Mount Rinjani, seen in the background, at Sembalun in East Lombok, Indonesia. (AP Photo)

Sembalun, Indonesia (AP) — A strong earthquake cut power across the Indonesian island of Lombok, toppled buildings and killed at least two people as the tourist hotspot was trying to recover from a temblor earlier this month that killed hundreds of people.

The shallow magnitude 6.9 quake that hit just after 10 p.m. Sunday was one of several powerful earthquakes in the northeast part of the island that also caused landslides. The nighttime quake was followed by strong aftershocks.

Two people died when their homes collapsed on Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa island, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted Monday morning.

People in Sembalun subdistrict, on Lombok in the shadow of Mount Rinjani, felt panic, but many were already staying in tents following the deadly quake in early August and its hundreds of aftershocks.

The Disaster Mitigation Agency said power was cut across the island, hampering efforts to assess the situation. Some houses and other buildings in Sembalun had collapsed, it said.

“People panicked and scattered,” Nugroho said. “Some people are hysterical because they feel earthquake aftershocks that are harder than before. They heard a roar that probably came from landslides in the hills and Mount Rinjani.”

Dwikorita Karnawatim, who heads Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said buildings that haven’t collapsed so far have suffered repeated stress, and authorities have urged people to avoid both the mountain’s slopes and weakened buildings.

Sunday night’s tremor occurred on a different fault and was not an aftershock of the magnitude 7.0 quake on Aug. 5 that killed 460 people, damaged tens of thousands of homes and displaced several hundred thousand people.

The quake lasting five to 10 seconds also was felt in the neighboring islands of Bali and Sumbawa and as far away as East Java and Makassar in Sulawesi.

Quakes earlier in the day Sunday included a magnitude 6.3 jolt that caused landslides on Rinjani, an active volcano. Video shot by the Indonesian Red Cross showed huge clouds of dust billowing from the mountain’s slopes.

The disaster agency said one person died from a heart attack during the biggest of the daytime quakes and nearly 100 houses near the epicenter were severely damaged.

Rinjani has been closed to visitors following a July earthquake that killed 16 people, triggered landslides and stranded hundreds of tourists on the mountain.