Indonesian President Joko Widodo talks with victims of a deadly earthquake on Lombok Island. The 6.4 magnitude quake hit the area on July 29, killing at least 16 people. (Photo courtesy of Cabinet Secretariat of Indonesia)
Catholic groups have started to collect aid for thousands of people affected by a deadly earthquake that recently hit Indonesia's popular tourist island of Lombok.
The 6.4 magnitude quake struck the island on July 29 and killed at least 16 people, left 355 people injured and forced more than 5,100 people to flee their homes, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Up until July 30, 276 aftershocks had hit the island and other areas in West Nusa Tenggara province.
At least 1,400 homes, seven schools, five health facilities, and 22 places of worship were badly damaged.
West Nusa Tenggara Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi declared a five-day state of emergency, due to end on Aug. 2.
"Catholics have started to collect aid. Catholic schools have collected tents, and my parishioners have collected rice and instant noodles," Father Laurensius Maryono from St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Mataram, the provincial capital told ucanews.com.
"St. Anthony Catholic Hospital has sent teams of medical workers to serve those affected by the quake in Sembalun sub-district, the worst-hit area," he said.
He said his parish's emergency response team — along with teams from Denpasar Diocese and the Mataram chapter of the Union of Catholic University Students of the Republic of Indonesia — went to the district on July 31.
"We had to assess the current situation and what aid the victims really need. We're focusing on things government and other organizations tend to overlook," he said.
Father Evensius Dewantoro, who heads the diocese's Socio-Economic Development Commission, said the teams would stay there for three days.
"Then we will submit recommendations to the bishop and Caritas Indonesia," he said.
Adrianus Umbu Zogara, head of the student group, said students had collected 100 kilograms of rice and two boxes of instant noodles.
"We've also received financial aid. We will use the money to buy necessities victims most need, such as blankets," he said, adding the aid will be distributed to victims next week.
Meanwhile, disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 150 tents, 100 power generators, 5,000 mattress, as well as clothing and food items were distributed to victims.
The quake near the 3,726 meter-high Mount Rinjani, also triggered landslides, cutting off hiking trails routes.
According to media reports, at least 543 hikers, many of whom were foreigners, were evacuated by rescue teams from Indonesia's second highest active volcano.