Two Earthquakes Rock Already Shaken Indonesian Island


The island of Lombok experienced two earthquakes on Sunday, with magnitudes of 6.5 and 6.9. The quakes killed at least 12 people and damaged over 1,800 homes, according to the New York Times.

These quakes occurred just two weeks after a different earthquake devastated the island. On August 5 a quake reached a magnitude of 7.0 and affected Lombok and three Gili Islands nearby. Over 460 people were killed in the quake and subsequent aftershocks. Seventy-one thousand buildings remain damaged, according to a disaster management agency report obtained by the New York Times.

Known as a popular tourist destination, there are mounting fears that the island may not economically recover from the quakes. Lombok is situated on the “ring of fire,” an area that, due to the movement of tectonic plates, is responsible for roughly 90 percent of all earthquakes. As a result, the quakes are unlikely to decrease in frequency. It is unclear if tourism will recover after this latest series of devastating quakes.

What is clear is that the original quake on Aug. 5 and the most recent quakes on Sunday have created a humanitarian crisis. Over 417,000 people were displaced in the first quake, according to estimates from the New York Times. The second two may deter people from attempting to return home. The Sunday quakes caused landslides and damaged buildings which may hinder access to some areas.

Express interviewed Caroline Haga, the Red Cross humanitarian and emergency communications specialist. She told reporters that, “The population feels like it’s had the rug pulled from under them with this new quake.”

The offering of humanitarian aid is an important show of international strength and unity in the face of a natural disaster.

A study released in 2013 attempted to measure the human impact of earthquakes using data from 1998 to 2009. The study suggested improvements to build the environment in areas where earthquakes are likely to continue. However, it also explained that other, short-term solutions may help in light of frequent quakes that cause largescale damage.  Humanitarian organizations and countries around the world can offer help with clearing rubble and search and rescue to prevent further loss of life.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have already significantly aided the recovery effort. Save the Children also pledged to increase efforts to help control damage in light of the number of children displaced by rubble.

The cost of recovery will be significant. One disaster agency that spoke to the New York Times estimated that the Aug. 5 earthquake caused roughly $511 million in damage. Express spoke to sources that put the estimate at a lower $342 million. Regardless, the high ticket price and the extent of the damage will result in a long road to recovery.