By Ahmad Syamsudin
The death toll from the earthquake that hit Lombok island in central Indonesia has risen to 436, and damage caused by the disaster is estimated at more than 5 trillion rupiah (U.S. $345 million), the country’s disaster management agency said Monday.
North Lombok regency was the hardest hit by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck on Aug. 5, with its residents accounting for more than two-thirds of the casualties, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).
Sutopo said the death toll is expected to increase as new reports of casualties are verified. In addition, more than 1,350 people were injured and 352,000 have been displaced.
“The figure represents the victims whose deaths have been recorded and for whom death certificates have been issued,” Sutopo said.
Losses are estimated at 5.04 trillion rupiah (about $345 million), he said.
“BNPB is still assessing the economic impact of the earthquake,” he said. “BNPB together with government ministries, institutions and non-governmental organizations are committed to building better and safer.
Indonesian officials say the country does not need foreign aid to recover from the quake.
“Looking at the situation, the national capacity is adequate to handle the aftermath of the earthquake, so international aid is not yet needed by the government of Indonesia,” Sutopo said last week.
“We are open to receive aid because people there need it, but we are also able to handle, such as in rebuilding houses that are damaged,” President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Friday, according to Republika, an Indonesian media outlet.
Foreign aid already has been offered, meanwhile. Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Australia, through its department of foreign affairs and Red Cross, had promised AU$150,000 ($109,000); China’s embassy had donated $100,000; USAID had donated $60,000; and the International Red Cross had donated 211,000 Swiss francs ($212,000).
NGO Mercy Malaysia said it was hoping to build 1,000 temporary houses for the earthquake victims. Executive committee member Norazam Ab Samah said 20 emergency shelters had already been set up, according to national news agency Bernama.
Another 100 units are expected to be set up this week, said Norazam, an architect. The 1,000 shelters will cost about 500,000 ringgit ($122,000) and are expected to be completed within two months.
Damaged roads and infrastructure have hampered the distribution of aid to affected areas, Sutopo said. Tents, ready-to-consume food, blankets and sanitary equipment are among the most-needed items.
The disaster agency, the military and the national search and rescue agency were deploying three helicopters to distribute supplies to isolated areas, Sutopo added.
Awal Firman Sebastian, whose house was destroyed in the quake, said he and other displaced people in his village of Tebango in Pemenang district had received instant noodles and bottled water, but little else.
“When we get tired of eating noodles we go to the nearby farm and pick some vegetables,” he told BenarNews.
Awal said nearly 90 percent of houses in the area was destroyed.
“We expect to live in tents for another two or three weeks,” he said.
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