A powerful quake which struck the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok has killed 82 people and wounded hundreds, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said early Monday, with thousands of buildings left damaged.
The 6.9 magnitude tremor, which triggered panic among tourists and locals on Sunday evening, was also felt on the neighbouring island of Bali, one of Southeast Asia's leading tourist destinations.
Nugroho said an initial tsunami warning which was later cancelled had sparked terror as residents scrambled to reach safer ground.
"People were panicking… especially because of the early tsunami warning," he said.
Hundreds of people have been taken to local hospitals and thousands of homes have been damaged, said Arifin Muhammad Hadi, head of disaster management of the Indonesian Red Cross Society.
The law and home affairs minister of Singapore, K. Shanmugam, who was in Mataram, the capital of Lombok Island, when the quake struck, said on Facebook that his 10th-floor hotel room had shaken violently and the walls had cracked.
“It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams,” he wrote. “Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking. Power went out for a while. Lots of cracks, fallen doors.”
Najmul Akhyar, the district chief of North Lombok, initially told Metro TV that at least three people had been killed, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Akhyar said, however, that because of an electrical blackout, he did not know whether there were other casualties.
Later, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency reported that the death toll had risen to 37, then to 82.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Board, said in a statement that the earthquake was also felt in Sumbawa Island, to the east of Lombok.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s national Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, said in a televised statement that there were about 12 aftershocks or “smaller earthquakes.”
The United States Geological Survey confirmed the 7.0 quake in a post on Twitter.
The Indonesia agency reported that the earthquake struck at 6:46 p.m. western Indonesian time. It occurred in the same area that a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours of July 29, killing 17 people and injuring more than 160.
Memories of the devastating 2004 tsunami which claimed 168,000 lives in Indonesia remain raw in the vast archipelago nation.
Most of the victims in the latest disaster died in mountainous northern Lombok, away from the main tourist spots on the south and west of the island. Thousands of people were evacuated to outside shelters.
Lombok's beaches and hiking trails draw holidaymakers from around the world.
The death toll jumped from 37 hours earlier as the scale of the destruction began to emerge overnight.
The US Geological Survey said the shallow quake hit northern Lombok just 10 kilometres underground and was followed by two further secondary quakes and nearly two dozen aftershocks.
Indonesia, which straddles the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In January, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Java, Indonesia’s main island, rocking buildings in the country’s capital, Jakarta, and sending people fleeing into the streets.
In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra set off a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Despite the tsunami warning being cancelled, seawater poured into two villages, senior disaster agency official Dwikorita Karnawati told local television.
Bali’s international airport suffered damage to its terminal but the runway was unaffected and operations had returned to normal, disaster agency officials said.
The tremor came a week after a shallow 6.4-magnitude quake hit Lombok, killing 17 people and damaging hundreds of buildings.
It triggered landslides that briefly trapped trekkers on popular mountain hiking routes.
Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.