More than 800 hikers were initially trapped on the mountain yesterday. (Reuters: Antara Foto/Ahmad Subaidi)
One of three key routes leading to the summit of Mount Rinjani on Indonesia’s Lombok Island has been cleared following an earthquake that stranded hundreds of trekkers on the volcano’s slopes, the national park authority says.
- Hundreds trapped on volcano now have path to safety
- Death toll from quake stands at 16, but could rise, say officials
- More than 1,000 buildings damaged after 6.4 magnitude quake struck
The national park authority said a key route to the summit of the 3,726-metre mountain had been reopened, and a helicopter was dropping supplies to others still picking their way to safety.
“There are around 500 trekkers,” said Agung Pramuja, a disaster mitigation official in Indonesia’s region of West Nusa Tenggara.
“We expect they will arrive at the foot of the mountain at around 5:00pm.”
He said a landslide triggered by the quake trapped a group of six at the crater lake of Indonesia’s second-highest volcano. Around 100 army personnel, police and other rescuers were working to get people down, with helicopters scouring for others still trapped.
Officials said the death toll from Sunday’s earthquake, which was centred on the northern part of Lombok but was also felt on the resort island of Bali to the west, stood at 16.
More than 335 people were injured, many by collapsing buildings.
As many as 820 people — most of them foreigners — were on Mount Rinjani when the quake struck, making two trails impassable, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the national disaster mitigation agency, said on Twitter late on Sunday.
The quake damaged more than 1,000 single-storey houses and taller buildings.
It hit the northern part of Lombok island early on Sunday morning when many people were still sleeping.
“We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads,” said Jean-Paul Volckaert, who was woken by the quake while sleeping in the Puncak Hotel near Senggigi on Lombok.
“I’ve been walking around but so far there is no damage. We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea.
“There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds.
Dust filled the air following the landslide on Mt Rinjani’s north slope. (Supplied: Sutopo Purwo Nugroho)
“The people in the villages may have damages. It’s still early morning here.”
The quake, which was quickly followed by an aftershock of magnitude-5.4 in the same area, was centred 50 kilometres north-east of the city of Mataram, the US Geological Survey said.