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Jakarta Post

Massive local disaster

Wed, August 15, 2018   /   03:03 pm
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    In ruins: A search and rescue officer stands on the rubble of a collapsed building following a series of tremors that have hit Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, since July 29. JP/ Seto Wardhana

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    Protector: A police officer keeps order while people flee their homes in Lombok. JP/ Seto Wardhana

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    Getting to safety: Lombok residents take their belongings to a safer place after a series of earthquakes hit the island. JP/ Seto Wardhana

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    Safe place: People erect tents and try to get electricity and clean water. JP/ Seto Wardhana

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    All hope lost: A man comforts a little girl in the midst of uncertainty in Lombok as a result of earthquakes that have constantly hit the island since July 29. JP/ Seto Wardhana

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    Under the stars: Residents sleep outside as they are afraid of sleeping indoors. JP/ Seto Wardhana

Seto Wardhana

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.