A 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Lombok island, West Nusa Tenggara, on July 29 and since then, nearly 600 aftershocks have taken place. The biggest among them so far was a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that took place on Aug. 5. It destroyed thousands of homes, displaced tens of thousands and as of Aug. 13 resulted in at least 436 deaths.
On the northern part of the island, where the earthquake hit the hardest, most of the houses, schools and government buildings were leveled. Those whose homes were still somewhat intact were still afraid to sleep indoors and chose to sleep outside on their mattresses.
Despite the number of casualties, the central government has yet to declare the Lombok earthquake a national disaster. Without national disaster status, the responsibility to handle the aftermath is all in the hands of the provincial government, which naturally lacks in terms of capacity and capability compared to the central government.
Many countries have offered assistance in the form of manpower, cash and aid to support victims in Lombok, but Government Regulation No. 23/2008 on the role of international non-governmental organizations and foreign assistance in disaster mitigation does not allow them to be directly involved in distributing the assistance.
Areas like Bayan and Kayangan districts were cut off from electricity and clean water, even a week after the quake struck, while popular tourist spots such as Gili Trawangan remain busy with tourists after the 7.0-magnitude quake. What the victims need now is faster assistance to repair their homes and return to their lives.