Series of quakes rocks Indonesia's Lombok, causing panic

MATARAM, Indonesia (Reuters) - A series of quakes including a powerful 6.9 magnitude tremor struck the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, killing one person and causing others to rush out of buildings in panic.

The quakes, which could be felt on the neighboring island of Bali, came two weeks to the day after another 6.9 earthquake killed 460 people on Lombok.

There were no immediate reports of widespread damage or other casualties from the tremors that started in the morning and carried on intermittently into the evening.

“I was in a restaurant when the shaking started. The lights went out, they are still out. Everyone is still outside, not going back in,” Teddy Aditya, an official at Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said from Mataram, the main city in Lombok.

“We are urging the public not to panic and to stay away from buildings and big trees. We are also urging them not to believe hoaxes and false information,” he told Reuters.

One person died in a 6.3 magnitude quake on Sunday morning, disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said via Twitter.

Lombok’s Mount Rinjani, where hundreds of trekkers were stranded after the July 29 quake, was closed and there were no tourists there, Nugroho added.

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USGS revised down the biggest tremor in the evening from magnitude 7.2 and estimated the depth at 20 km and the epicenter 4 km south of Belanting in the north east side of Lombok.

Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency said there was no risk of a tsunami.

In Bali, the latest big quake was felt for a few seconds, rattling windows and furniture.

Diamba, a French tourist staying in the resort of Amed on Bali’s east coast, said by text message that everyone in his hotel ran out of their rooms after the tremor.

Lombok, just east of Bali, the southeast Asian country’s most famous tourist destination, has been rocked by a series of quakes and aftershocks since July 29, including a 6.9-magnitude tremor on Aug. 5.

Lombok suffered damage running to more than 5 trillion rupiah ($342 million) from the Aug. 5 earthquake, authorities said last week, putting the death toll at more than 430.

More than 350,000 people fled their homes after that quake to shelter in government-provided tents or makeshift structures in open fields. Authorities said aid was slow getting to some of the hardest-hit areas as they are remote.

Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor, Fanny Potkin and Tabita Diela; Writing by John Chalmers and Ed Davies; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Andrew Heavens