Lombok and Bali, two small islands in Indonesian, have been hit by two sizeable quakes in the last week. The popular tourist destinations are located along the “Ring of Fire” and are no stranger to tremors. The recent quakes, however, have done an immeasurable amount of damage, leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Damage Caused by the Quakes
In Bali, a temple in Ubud and two shopping malls were damaged. There are also reports of minor damage at the airport. The majority of the damage the quakes caused, however, was in Lombok. Thousands of houses, school and mosques have been destroyed, many also taking the lives of those inside them. The exact number of fatalities is unknown as people continue to search for their loved ones in the rubble. The number of confirmed casualties as a result of the quakes is now over 100 and the locals are exasperated with the lack of search and rescue efforts from the government.
Updates and Advice for Travellers
Tourists have been evacuated from the Gilli Islands, three small Islands off the coast of Lombok. There are no official travel warnings against visiting Bali or Lombok, though tourists have been warned to stay away from a number of volcanic craters across Indonesia.
Despite minor damage to the airport in Bali, flights have been operating as normal since Sunday afternoon. Extra flights leaving the islands have been scheduled, by some airlines, for the tourists and locals trying to leave.
If you were in or near one of the affected areas during the earthquakes it is important that you let your family, friends and government know that you are safe. If you are still in Indonesia keep an eye on local news reports and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The islands have also been struck by a number of aftershocks following the larger quakes and locals and tourists have been told to expect more in the coming days. A tsunami warning was issued moments after the largest quake but the warning has since been rescinded.
What can you do to help?
The Indonesian Red Cross is pleading for blood donations and a number of other charities and aid foundations are asking for monetary donations to help with relief efforts. If you are interested in how you can help on the ground they may be in need of volunteers. If you have a specific skill set that could be of use (doctor, builder, therapist etc) please look into the agencies providing aid in the area to ask how you can help. When visiting any location affected by a devastating natural disaster it is important to be respectful of those living there.
Events like this should not discourage you from discovering Indonesia and the return of tourism will return a much-needed cash flow to the islands as they recover.