Indonesia quake toll climbs to 98

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Shanmugam caught in Lombok earthquake that killed 82: "It was impossible to stand up"

Indonesia's disaster agency says the death toll from the quake that shook Lombok island Sunday evening has risen to 131. "We were finally able to freshen up at a hotel near the airport", she told Arab News.

Nugroho says the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue crews reach more affected areas and begin to search the rubble for more victims.

The powerful quake has killed more than 90 people and wounded hundreds, with thousands of buildings left damaged.

The 6.9-magnitude quake hit the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday.

This version corrects the spelling of the spokesman's name.

A powerful natural disaster flattened houses and toppled bridges on the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok, killing at least 98 people and shaking neighbouring Bali, as authorities said today that rescuers still hadn't reached some devastated areas and the death toll would climb.

For many, food and water remains in short supply and people are afraid to return to their homes - that is if they are still standing.

Authorities have said the death toll, 105 as of Tuesday evening, would increase as the search effort continues.

"There's a massive rush of people wanting to get out of Lombok because of unfounded rumours, such as of a tsunami", Muhammad Faozal, the head of the tourism agency in West Nusa Tenggara province, told AFP.

At least 4600 foreign and Indonesian tourists, including a large number of Australians, have also been evacuated from three smaller islands off Lombok's coast so far, Nugroho said.

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The 6.9-magnitude quake hit around 6:45 p.m. Sunday near the village of Loloan.

Local authorities, global NGOs and the central government have begun organising aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north and east of Lombok, which was hardest hit.

Rescuers in Lombok were said to be still pulling people out alive from the rubble, two days after the natural disaster. Thousands of people are now trying to get off the island, she said, describing the mood as both sombre and panicked.

After the initial quake, further aftershocks - including one just 1km off the coast of the island - caused further destruction, toppling buildings and causing injuries and deaths.

At Lombok's airport, dozens of tourists slept on the floor as they waited for flights off the island.

Officials said an operation is now underway to evacuate thousands of tourists from Lombok and nearby islands.

Officials said an effort is underway to evacuate about 1,200 tourists from Gili island, which is popular with divers and backpackers.

"There has been no help at all here", said 36-year-old Multazam, who was staying with hundreds of others under tarpaulins on a dry paddy field outside West Pemenang village.

Indonesia is defined by string of volatile volcanoes stretching for thousands of miles, as it is situated on the so-called Ring of Fire around the Pacific. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

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