JAKARTA, Indonesia — The popular Indonesian resort island of Lombok, already under a weeklong state of emergency, was struck once again on Sunday by a powerful earthquake. At least 37 people were killed in the quake, which was felt on Bali, just to the west, Indonesia’s national Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said.
Television footage showed panicked residents and tourists fleeing to safety on both islands, especially in light of a warning that the quake and major aftershocks could cause a devastating tsunami.
The magnitude 7.0 quake, first announced as a magnitude 6.8 and then revised upward, tore through North Lombok’s coastal region in the early evening. Minutes later, a magnitude-5.6 aftershock jolted the region again, the agency said, the first of a wave of about a dozen aftershocks. The one-two punch damaged Lombok’s physical structures, including two shopping malls and a cathedral, officials said.
Initially, Najmul Akhyar, the district chief of North Lombok, told Metro TV that at least three people had been killed, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Akhyar said, however, that because of an electrical blackout, he did not know whether there were other casualties.
Later, Muhammad Rum, the head of the West Nusa Tenggara Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in an interview with Metro TV that 37 people had died.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Board, said in a statement that the earthquake was heavily felt in Mataran, the capital of Lombok Island, prompting residents to flee their homes. It was also felt in Sumbawa Island, to the east of Lombok.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the meteorology agency, said in a televised statement that there were about 12 aftershocks or “smaller earthquakes.”
That quake sent villagers fleeing into open fields to avoid collapsing buildings.
The agency initially reported that Sunday’s earthquake did not generate a tsunami, but within minutes put out a warning that a possible tsunami had formed off the north coast of Lombok. It said a tsunami has been detected in the Carik and Badas areas. The tsunami warning was later lifted.
The head of the meteorology agency said there were increased wave levels of 14 centimeters, or 5.5 inches, in the village of Carik, in North Lombok. “We predict the highest wave levels to be only one-half a meter,” she said.
Indonesia, which straddles the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In January, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Java, Indonesia’s main island, rocking buildings in the country’s capital, Jakarta, and sending people fleeing into the streets.
In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra set off a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, according to The A.P.
An earlier version of this article, using information from an official’s television interview in Indonesia, misstated the number of earthquakes that struck on Sunday. There was one, not two.
Muktita Suhartono contributed reporting from Bangkok.
Orignially published in NYT.