Lombok earthquake death toll continues to rise amid hundreds of aftershocks

Lombok earthquake death toll continues to rise amid hundreds of aftershocks 

A father holds his injured daughter at an emergency hospital in Tanjung, northern Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, Aug. 8, 2018. EPA-EFE/ADI WEDA

Jakarta, Aug 9 (efe-epa).- Indonesian authorities on Thursday raised to 168 the death toll from a magnitude-6.9 earthquake that hit the island of Lombok on Aug. 5, as over 350 aftershocks have been recorded in the region.

National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement that official data on casualties is slow due to the verification process.

Sutopo referred to informal figures provided by other entities, which in one case put the number of deaths at 381.

On Wednesday night in a statement, the BNPB representative asked for caution to ensure correct data and called on the media to use BNPB figures.

«Often a single victim registers (in unofficial sources) as more than one,» said Sutopo, explaining that in some cases their name and nickname are used separately.

But he also warned the death toll is expected to rise due to the ongoing search and rescue operations.

The agency also reported that 1,467 people have been hospitalized due to injuries and more than 156,000 have been displaced.

The search and rescue teams on Thursday continue to try to locate victims or survivors under the rubble of thousands of demolished buildings.

In a video published on social media by the BNPB, a rescue group was transporting a person on a stretcher.

Most of the victims died in northern Lombok, where numerous houses and mosques collapsed.

On the road leading to the north of the island, locals were asking for money to help the victims amid collapsed buildings.

Dozens of injured people are being treated in tents temporarily set up near Tanjung hospital in the northwest of the island, as the center was damaged by the quake.

Aid has reached many of the survivors, but there is still a lack of food, water and tents in areas that are difficult to access.

Lombok is known for Mt Rinjani volcano and comprises about 4,700 square kilometers in land area. It is located east of the popular tourist destination island of Bali, where the earthquake killed two people.

Some 7,000 tourists had to be evacuated from the small Gili islands off Lombok after the quake.

The quake occurred a week after another 6.4-magnitude tremor struck Lombok and left 16 people dead, 355 injured and 1,500 buildings destroyed.

The Indonesian archipelago is situated along the so-called «Pacific Ring of Fire,» an area known for its intense seismic and volcanic activity, which produce about 7,000 earthquakes each year, most of which are of moderate magnitude.