Travel safety concerns following earthquake in Indonesia
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 struck Indonesia around 10pm local time on 19th August. Lombok has been hit hard by the natural occurrence, which triggered several dangerous landslides and damaged a number of buildings. All of this just two weeks after a tremor caused the death of almost 500 people, and left thousands of people homeless.
The landslides that were set off by the earthquake cut off power and communication across the region while residents evacuated their homes. The quake on Sunday afternoon came with massive aftershocks. More than 100 aftershocks have rocked Lombok since Sunday night, ranging between 4 and 5 on the earthquake magnitude scale. They continued on until the morning.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman at the national disaster mitigation agency, noted that the earthquake was felt particularly hard in East Lombok, but it the disaster radiated out toward Bali, Sumbawa, East Java, and Makassar.
Families and individuals left homeless by the disaster are staying in temporary shelters in safer areas. These are mostly large tent-like structures made out of waterproof sheeting.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to areas of Lombok, unless it is absolutely essential that you travel to North Lombok. Other areas are not advised. The resulting damage to buildings and infrastructure means that the northern and western areas of Lombok are in horrific conditions – there are power outages and a lack of clean water.
The FCO advise that those that are intending to travel to Indonesia to plan ahead and take caution. If your travel is essential and unavoidable, plan your journey carefully and have contingency plans in place before you depart. Check with your travel provider to ensure that your trip will be as safe as possible, or if the trip is running at all. If you’re traveling against UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, follow the same procedure.
For any individuals currently in the affected areas, please exercise caution stay away from any collapsed or unsafe buildings and/or structures and liaise with your travel company to get to safety and return to the UK if that is your current plan. Follow the advice of the local authorities and keep your loved ones up to date with your situation and travel plans where possible.
It has been confirmed that both the Lombok and Ngurah Rai airports are operating as normal for travellers looking to book flights home. Major tourist resorts in Bali and southern Lombok are also operating as normal for anyone planning to travel into Lombok.
Several aid organisations are carrying out relief efforts for individuals stranded following the quake and aftershocks. Save the Children, as well as Red Cross, are among them, ready to scale up their response where it’s needed and help with communication and rescue/relief across the affected areas.
Any tourists looking to cancel their travel plans from the UK should check with their travel insurance providers regarding refunds; considering the circumstances, it seems many travel operators may be more lenient.
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