Sabtu, 11 Agustus 2018

SAFETY OF TOURISTS PRIORITIZED IN LOMBOK QUAKE RESCUE OPERATION by Fardah

Jakarta, Aug 11, 2018 (Antara) - Lombok, which was rocked by three powerful earthquakes on July 29, Aug 5 and 9, 2018, is one of Indonesia's ten priority tourist destinations, beyond Bali.
         Located in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Province, Lombok Island is blessed with beautiful white-sand beaches, forest-covered mountainous areas, and a distinct culture.
            Thanks to intensive tourism promotional activities at home and overseas, NTB, which is situated not far from Bali and scenically no less beautiful than Bali, has attracted much domestic, as well as foreign tourists, and seeks to attract four million foreign tourists by 2018.
       So, when powerful earthquakes rocked Lombok Island, the main concerns of the authorities include the safety of local inhabitants and tourists.
        The Indonesian foreign ministry recently briefed foreign envoys on the latest developments in Lombok, particularly following a powerful magnitude-7 earthquake on Aug 5 that devastated 75 percent of the buildings in North Lombok district.
          The briefing, organized by the consular directorate of the foreign ministry, was attended by envoys of 30 foreign countries and officials of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBN), the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), and the Meteorology, Geophysics, and Climatology Agency (BMKG).
   The foreign ministry has since established a "Foreign Visitor Help Desk" (FVHD) to assist foreigners seeking information related to the natural disaster.  

       Additionally, the foreign envoys expressed their condolences and sympathies to families of the dead, as well as to those injured in the natural disaster.

           They also praised the Indonesian government over its disaster mitigation and rescue efforts following the earthquake.
        Also, Indonesian officials briefed the foreign envoys on rescue efforts, including the evacuation of the affected local residents and foreigners from Lombok.
         Evacuation operations are crucial because BMKG has predicted that aftershocks will continue to jolt Lombok Island over the next four weeks. Since the Aug 5 quake, 451 aftershocks have been recorded, as of the morning of Aug 10.
          Of the total, 20 aftershocks could be felt by local residents, including another powerful earthquake measuring a magnitude 6.2 on the Richter scale on Aug 9, 2018.
         The death toll of the Aug 5 earthquake felt at VII MMI (Modified Marcelli Intensity), has reached 386 people, while hundreds of others were injured, none of them being foreign tourists.
        The magnitude-7 quake, which was also felt by those on Bali Island and part of East Java, almost had the same epicenter as the magnitude-6.4 quake that also hit Lombok on July 29 this year and killed 17 people.
        Earlier, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto told the press that some seven thousand foreign tourists were evacuated to Bali from the tourist areas of Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno, Lombok.
        The government has provided boats, buses, and planes for the evacuation.
         Meanwhile, On Aug 7 Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi confirmed that all foreign tourists have been evacuated from Lombok to Bali Island.
        "Today, (Aug 7) the relevant parties have completed the evacuation of foreign tourists on Lombok Island," the minister said, on the sidelines of the 7th Bali Process Ministerial Conference held in Nusa Dua, Bali.
        Furthermore, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has instructed his ministers to intensify search and rescue efforts in the quake-devastated island.
          The Head of State emphasized the need to lay greater focus on better services offered to tourists vacationing in Lombok following the earthquake.
           "I have ordered the coordinating minister to ensure that tourists receive the best possible services," he said.
        For that purpose, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has established a Crisis Center to monitor latest developments in post-earthquake areas.
        Meanwhile, the Denpasar office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said there was no need for foreign and domestic tourists in Bali to be worried by earthquakes and aftershocks that continued to rock neighboring Lombok island.
          "After the July 29th quakes, we have continued observations. According to the result of the monitoring, there are frequent aftershocks, but the magnitude is declining," Melki Adi Kurniawan said in Denpasar, Bali, on Aug 10, 2018.
         Melki Adi Kurniawan added, based on the observations of the agency, there was an increase in the frequency of aftershocks, but the impact was not as serious as the damage caused several days earlier.
         "Therefore, we want to assure tourists and local people that there is no need for them to be worried too much, as the quakes in Lombok had no significant effect in Bali," he said.
          The condition in Bali is not affected by the aftershocks that continue to rock the neighboring island of Lombok.  
     The death toll on Lombok Island reached 555. More than 1,300 people were injured and nearly 353,000 have been internally displaced.
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(f001/INE)

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