S’porean caught in 3rd Lombok quake
A day after he returns to Indonesian island to help in relief efforts, building collapses near him as strong aftershock sparks fresh panic
The quake lasted for just 15 seconds, and Mr Mohamad Tahar Jumaat, 50, initially thought it was a road accident behind the car he was in.
He then realised that glass windows were shattering at a building nearby.
"Then the side pillar cracked and snapped, like a lumberjack breaking wood with his bare hands," said Mr Tahar, describing to The New Paper yesterday how part of the building had collapsed.
The Singaporean had just gone back to Lombok on Wednesday night to help with relief efforts when a third earthquake yesterday sparked panic again in the Indonesian island already hit by two devastating quakes on July 29 and Aug 5.
Mr Tahar, who had returned to Singapore with his wife after the second quake, was in Mataram, Lombok's largest city, getting supplies when yesterday's strong aftershock struck.
After the first quake in July, he helped 20 National University of Singapore students he was chaperoning on an overseas programme get to safety.
Despite the risk of more aftershocks, Mr Tahar, who travels often between Singapore and Indonesia because of work, said he would remain in Lombok until the end of the month.
Members of a disaster response team from Singapore humanitarian charity Mercy Relief found themselves even closer to the quake's epicentre.
Along the coastline in North Lombok, Mr Masahiro Ishizeki and Mr Zhofry Hamid were on the way to support relief distribution operations with their local partners when they saw people running around.
Their car shuddered from side to side. Traffic stopped and they feared their car would tip over.
Mr Zhofry, assistant manager for corporate outreach and resource at Mercy Relief, told TNP: "Fortunately, no one from our team suffered any injuries. Though we were worried about our safety, the aftershock lasted for only a few seconds. But we were unsure of what would happen next."
They returned to Mataram as they were near the coast and feared a possible tsunami. But unlike the second quake, no tsunami warning was issued.
Yesterday's 5.9-magnitude quake struck at a shallow depth, the US Geological Survey said, even as relief agencies raced to find survivors from Sunday's quake, AFP reported.
It was the strongest of 355 aftershocks that have rattled the island since Sunday, said national disaster agency spokes-man Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Evacuees at a shelter in northern Lombok ran out to the road crying and screaming, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
A woman wearing a motorbike helmet was crying with her two daughters in her arms.
"We were stuck in the traffic while delivering aid, suddenly it felt like our car was hit from behind, it was so strong," witness Sri Laksmi told AFP.
"People in the street began to panic and got out of their cars, they ran in different directions in the middle of the traffic."
The aftershock came just four days after a devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck Lombok, which relief agencies said had wiped out entire villages in the worst-hit regions in the north and west.
Mr Nugroho told BBC yesterday there were 259 people confirmed dead, 1,400 seriously injured and more than 270,000 displaced.