It is feared that up to 50 worshippers were trapped when the large Jabal Nur mosque in the village of Lading-Lading in the north of Lombok was flattened by the 6.9 magnitude quake on Sunday.
French tourist Laurent Smadja, who had been on Gilli Meno, the smallest of the three islands, described scenes of chaos and confusion in the aftermath of the quake as holidaymakers jostled to leave.
Indonesian officials said the death toll is expected to rise as they receive more information about collapsed and badly damaged buildings, especially near the earthquake’s epicentre in the northern part of the island.
More than twenty-thousand locals have also fled their homes to find shelter, and the Indonesian military has sent humanitarian aid to help with the evacuation.
That’s because the region sits smack-dab along the so-called ring of fire-an imaginary, horseshoe-shape line that follows the rim of the Pacific Ocean and marks spots where several tectonic plates collide.
“When the natural disaster happened, I stopped praying with dozens of other people”.
Nugroho said so far more than 4,600 foreign and Indonesian tourists had been evacuated from the islands, with ships taking people to ports in Lombok and Benoa, Bali.
“It was very hard, people were fighting [to get on boats]”.
The powerful quake killed at least 91 people and damaged thousands of buildings in Lombok.
At magnitude 6.9, the latest big quake released more than five times the energy of the earlier one, the United States Geological Survey website said.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency hasn’t said how many people it believes were buried in the mosque but spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nguroho said he hopes “a lot” will be rescued.
More than 230 people were seriously injured.
“We have yet to ask for help from the worldwide (community)”.
Crews using heavy equipment resumed the search Wednesday for survivors in the mosque, now reduced to a pile of concrete and metal bars, with its towering green dome folded in on itself. “Clean drinking water is scarce due to the extremely dry weather”.
The United Nations has offered to support rescue and relief efforts if required.
The disorder and desperation felt by so many on Lombok has ignited a new problem – looting, by both locals and tourists. Amid collapsed homes, most hotels seemed to have shut and beaches were deserted.
“There are only a few tourists left here”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr O’Sullivan said that around 30 of those were evacuated on Sunday night but the remainder were on the beach in some cases for up to 36 hours waiting to be evacuated.
“The building swayed back and forth quite violently”, he said.
“I tried to move my leg, lift it up, and that’s when I realised it was broken”, the 49-year-old, who goes by one name, told AFP from a stretcher outside a hospital in Mataram.
He said the group already had been staying in tents after the July 29 quake, but now officials told them to return to Java.
“This is it for me in Indonesia. Gili Air has run out of food and water so they have come to us”, she told Reuters in a text, then messaging later that she had been taken on a boat to the main island and would head from there to Bali.