3 dead after 7.0 earthquake hits Indonesian resort islands

A strong earthquake struck Indonesia's popular tourist island of Lombok on Sunday, killing at least three people, one week after another quake in the same area killed more than a dozen.

The latest quake, which triggered a brief tsunami warning, damaged buildings as far away as Denpasar on Bali island, including a department store and the airport terminal, where ceiling panels were shaken loose, authorities said.

Video showed screaming people running in panic from houses in a Bali neighbourhood and vehicles rocking. On Lombok, soldiers and other rescuers carried injured people on stretchers and carpets to an evacuation centre.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.0, which is classified as "major." It struck early Sunday evening at a depth of 10.5 kilometres. Its epicentre was about 2 kilometres east-southeast of Loloan.

A tsunami warning was lifted after waves just 15 centimetres high were recorded in three villages, said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

Fleeing to higher ground

Najmul Akhyar, district chief of North Lombok, told MetroTV that there was an electrical blackout so he was unable to assess the entire situation, but that at least three people had been killed.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the quake was felt strongly across Lombok and Bali and had damaged houses on both islands.

Patients were lined up outside a hospital in Bali as a precautionary measure following the earthquake. (Joahnnes P. Christo/Reuters)

Iwan Asmara, a Lombok disaster official, said people poured out of their homes in panic to move to higher ground, particularly in North Lombok and Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province, which includes Lombok.

The Bali and Lombok airports were operating normally Sunday night, according to the director general of civil aviation. There had been a half hour evacuation at the Lombok airport earlier in the evening following the quake because the electricity went off.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 hit Lombok on July 29, killing 16 people.

Like Bali, Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

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