New Indonesia earthquake kills 3 in Java village, rocks Bali

A sailor walks among rubble beside a stranded ship as navy personnel conduct coastline mapping in Wani, Donggala, following the September 28 earthquake and tsunami that hit that part of Indonesia. (Adek Berry/AFP)
A sailor walks among rubble beside a stranded ship as navy personnel conduct coastline mapping in Wani, Donggala, following the September 28 earthquake and tsunami that hit that part of Indonesia. (Adek Berry/AFP)

Palu – An earthquake collapsed homes on Indonesia's Java island, killing at least three people, and shook the tourist hotspot of Bali on Thursday, two weeks after a major quake-tsunami disaster in a central region of the archipelago.

Indonesia's disaster agency said the night-time quake was centred at sea, 55km northeast of Situbondo city, and was also felt in Lombok. The US Geological Survey said it had a 6.0 magnitude.

The agency said the worst affected area was in Sumenep district, East Java where three people died in one village and several homes were damaged.

It said "the earthquake was felt quite strongly by people in Sumenep and Situbondo for 2-5 seconds. People poured out of their houses. In other areas the earthquake was felt to be moderate."

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are holding annual meetings in Bali through Sunday.

Some tourists and residents in Bali went outdoors as a precaution, but then back to sleep when there was no tsunami warning.

The country is still working to recover from the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 2 000 people and left perhaps thousands more buried deeply in mud in some neighbourhoods of Palu city in central Sulawesi.

'People are traumatised'

Disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Wednesday the death toll from the double disaster on September 28 has risen to 2 045, with most of the fatalities in the coastal city of Palu. More than 80 000 people are living in temporary shelters or otherwise displaced, he said.

Possibly 5 000 people were buried in places where the earthquake caused liquefaction, a phenomenon where wet soil weakens and collapses, becoming mud that sucks houses and everything else into the ground in a quicksand-like effect.

Stretches of the coastline were trashed by the tsunami that Nugroho said had waves up to 11 metres high.

The official search for bodies will end on Thursday with mass prayers in affected neighbourhoods, but Nugroho said volunteers and family members can continue searching. Memorials will be constructed in hard-hit neighbourhoods such as Balaroa and Petobo, he said at a news conference in Jakarta.

"People are traumatised. They don't want to go back" to those places, Nugroho said. "They asked to be relocated to another place and a house made for them."

After making a rare appeal for international assistance, Indonesia is now trying to limit foreign involvement in the disaster relief effort. Nugroho said there's no need for international aid other than the four priorities identified by Indonesia – tents, water treatment units, generators and transport.

The disaster agency has circulated guidelines that say foreign aid workers can be in the field only with Indonesian partners. Groups that sent foreign personnel to the disaster zone are "advised to retrieve their personnel immediately", according to those guidelines.

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