Lombok earthquake: 500 trapped climbers make way down Indonesian peak
Indonesia Lombok earthquake: 500 trapped climbers make way down Indonesian peak
Key route to summit of Mount Rinjani cleared after landslides caused by Sundayâs quake
Hundreds of people are making their way down Mount Rinjani after becoming trapped when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that killed 17 people struck the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok.
Rescuers set off on Monday morning to help nearly 700 trekkers and climbers who became stranded at two points on the mountain, Indonesiaâs disaster agency said, after landslides caused by the earthquake blocked some trails off the peak.
The national park authority sa id a key route to the summit of the 3,726-metre (12,224ft) mountain had been cleared, and that a helicopter was dropping supplies to people on other routes who were still picking their way to safety.
An estimated 689 people were still on Rinjani, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of the national disaster mitigation agency. âHundreds of trekkers in the crater in climbing areas couldnât come down when they wanted to, because the paths were covered by debris from landslides and there were fears of subsequent landslides,â Sutopo told a news conference.
Authorities expected 500 trekkers to arrive at the foot of the mountain by 5pm, according to Agung Pramuja, a disaster mitigation official in Indonesiaâs region of West Nusa Tenggara.
He said a landslide triggered by the quake trapped a group of six people at the crater lake of Indonesiaâs second-highest volcano. About 100 army, police and other rescuers were working to get people down, with helicopt ers scouring the area for others still trapped.
Mount Rinjani is a popular destination for adventurous climbers. The strenuous trek to the summit takes at least two days.
âI thought I was going to die,â said John Robyn Buenavista, a 23-year-old American, who was at the summit when the quake hit. âI was clinging to the ground. It felt like it lasted forever. I saw people fall off, but itâs a blur,â he told Reuters.
Officials said 17 people had died in Sundayâs earthquake, which was centred on the northern part of Lombok, but was also felt on the resort island of Bali to the west. More than 150 people were injured, many by collapsing buildings.
The evacuation team, which set out at 7am, was made up of 184 people, including military, police and medical personnel, volunteers and park staff.
Park officials closed the climbing route on Sunday morning and the stranded trekkers were advised to stay in a safe place until the rescue team arrived.
According to local reports an Indonesian climber from Makassar was killed by falling rocks during the landslide. Other climbers are believed to be in good health.
Buenavista said he was about to take some dawn photographs at the crater edge when the earthquake struck, and his immediate thought was that the volcano had erupted.
âI started running to the trail,â he told Reuters by telephone from the Gili Islands, off Lombokâs north-west coast, where he headed after a seven-hour trek to the foot of the peak. âAt one point, I saw people w ith half of their bodies stuck in the rocks and I just couldnât move. I felt paralysed and stopped moving. The guides were screaming, âDonât die, donât die.â One of the guides had to shake me and take me by the hand. He told me that I had to go, and that they would be okay.â
The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, arrived in Lombok on Monday morning to visit the victims and oversee the provision of aid, including cash to help residents rebuild their homes.
Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, which is located on the seismically active Pacific âring of fireâ.
- Asia Pacific
- Natural disasters and extreme weather
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