The Indonesian island of Lombok has suffered yet another serious earthquake and aftershock, terrifying communities who have already survived five quakes and more than a thousand aftershocks over the past month.

The new quake, a magnitude 5.1 event with its epicentre near the island’s main city of Mataram, happened around 10.30am local time on 31 August.

Teachers and students ran from their classrooms. Traffic halted in the bustling city as people fled to the streets. As the midday prayer sang throughout Mataram city, many residents remained outside fearing aftershocks. Parents consoled their children.

The earthquakes and aftershocks have so far killed 555 people, injured 7,757 more, and displaced more than 390,000 people. Three-quarters of the buildings on the island have already damaged or destroyed. In some villages, every single home has been destroyed. Families are sleeping in temporary shelters and even moving away from the ocean, concerned for their safety if a tsunami should occur.

“We are tired but we have to stay strong,” nodded Suliko from outside her tea shop in Mataram. “We are strong” she emphasized.

The Indonesian Red Cross is assessing damage from the latest earthquake, and distributing clean water and shelter materials.

With rainy season fast approaching, reconstruction and recovery will be critical. However, recovery work is being hampered by continuous strong and unpredictable aftershocks, which are also preventing people from beginning to rebuild lives and return to some sense of normalcy.  

To support the Indonesian Red Cross’ actions to help people to recover, IFRC has launched an emergency appeal of 8.9 million Swiss francs.