The Indonesian island of Lombok has been hit by five earthquakes in the past few weeks. The heaviest shock, on 5 August, had a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter Scale. The estimated total death is 555 people, 77,000 houses were ruined and 400,000 people are now living in emergency shelters. Soimin Muhamad’s town was spared so far, but his family is anxious about new shocks.
‘When the first earthquake happened in Lombok, I was in Turkey on the last day of my MSc internship. I read many posts on Facebook and received messages from my friends, so that is how I knew what had happened. I could only try to reach my family through WhatsApp calling because I had no mobile subscription there. Luckily, they answered immediately and everything was okay. They live quite far from the epicentre of the earthquake. I have lived in Lombok for more than 20 years and I only ever experienced two or three small earthquakes, nothing like this. My family is shocked. They have set up a tent in the backyard to sleep in, because they are afraid to sleep in the house.
A friend of mine lived exactly in the epicentre, his town is totally destroyed. I could not reach him the first day, because all electricity and signals had fallen out. He turned out to be okay, but soon after the heaviest shock he moved to the mountains to flee from the tsunami and he stayed in a camp there. In the first week, conditions there were terrible and distribution of provisions was a problem. At the moment, the basic necessities are available for the people living there. After staying in the camp for two weeks, my friend has gone home again. Many people have now returned to their ruined houses, but are still sleeping outside. As there are still shocks, reconstruction of the houses has not begun yet.
I will go back home at the end of September. I am not sure yet what the impact for me and my family in my village will be. I am lucky to live further away from the epicentre, where the damage is limited.’