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Tourists flee Indonesia's Lombok island after scores killed in massive earthquake

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Deadly Indonesia earthquake
Deadly Indonesia earthquake rocks popular tourist destinations 02:17

MATARAM, Indonesia -- Thousands of tourists and locals spent the night outdoors after a powerful earthquake struck the island of Lombok in Indonesia late Sunday. Long lines formed at the island's main airport Monday as foreign visitors clambered to get on flights home.

"We had to sleep… outside the hotel," said one tourist from Switzerland, who was among hundreds waiting at the airport on Monday to try to get on a flight.

"Every 10, 15 minutes, another quake. It was kind of difficult," he said.

"My dad made me climb onto the roof of a house," one young British boy, who had been on vacation with his father, said.

"Not sure whether that was a good idea," the boy's father added. "We thought the tsunami was coming. We tried to get up high and get onto like a garage roof thing."

Foreign tourists sit and lie on the floor as they queue to leave Lombok Island after an earthquake hit, as seen at Lombok International Airport, Indonesia
Foreign tourists sit and lie on the floor as they queue to leave Lombok Island after an earthquake hit, as seen at Lombok International Airport, Indonesia, August 6, 2018. BEAWIHARTA / REUTERS

Some airlines announced they were adding extra flight from Lombok to help tourists leave. Nearly 1000 foreign tourists were being evacuated from nearby the neighboring Gilli islands and at least one person was killed on nearby Bali, BBC News reported.

"I was at the rooftop of my hotel and the building started swaying very hard… I could not stand up," French tourist Gino Poggaili, who was at the airport with his wife, Maude, and two small children, told the Reuters news agency.

"This is it for me in Indonesia," Maude added. "Next time, we will stay in France."

On Monday, rescuers still hadn't reached some of the most devastated parts of Lombok, where houses were flattened in the 6.9 magnitude quake that killed at least 98 people, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. It was the second deadly quake in a week to hit Lombok. A July 29 quake killed 16 people and damaged hundreds of houses, some of which collapsed in Sunday evening's temblor, killing those inside.

People crowd on the shore as they attempt to leave the Gili Islands after an earthquake Gili Trawangan, in Lombok, Indonesia
People crowd on the shore as they attempt to leave the Gili islands after an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia, August 6, 2018. Indonesia Water Police/Handout. HANDOUT / REUTERS

Rescuers were battling against collapsed bridges, electricity blackouts and damaged roads blocked with debris. Lack of heavy equipment was hampering attempts to find victims beneath the rubble of a mosque that collapsed in northern Lombok while villagers prayed inside, Nugroho said.

The quake triggered a tsunami warning and frightened people poured out of their homes to move to higher ground, particularly in North Lombok and Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province. The warning was lifted on Sunday after only small waves were recorded.

Nugroho said there were no fatalities among the local and foreign tourists and a joint search and rescue team had deployed three ships to evacuate people.

Like neighboring 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 because of its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

"The building was collapsing, so there were rocks ralling on me, and I was stuck," a Moroccan tourist, who was in a wheel chair, said as she waited at the airport to try to get on a flight.

"When I fell, I opened my knee. Now I have four stitches on my knee, and I can't walk, but my friends helped me. So now we're here and we hope to go home soon."

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