Key route cleared for trekkers stranded on quake-hit Lombok

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At least 14 people have been killed and more than 160 others injured in a 6.4 magnitude natural disaster that hit the Indonesian island of Lombok Sunday.

Rising some 3,726 metres (12,224 feet) above sea level, Rinjani is the second-tallest volcano in Indonesia and a favourite among sightseers keen to take in its expansive views. According to reports, among the foreigners climbing the volcano mostly Thai tourists, with French, Dutch and Spanish making up the next-largest contingents.

The powerful quake, whose epicentre was at a depth of seven kilometres, hit at 6.47am local time, the United States Geological Survey said.

East Lombok district was the hardest hit with eight deaths, including a Malaysian national, said a spokesman for Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today Malaysia would send aid to the Indonesian people who were affected by the natural disaster yesterday in Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat, in the republic.

Hundreds of homes were damaged by the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck early in the morning when many people were still asleep, injuring 162 people.

Current reports state that the quake killed 10 people, left dozens injured, and buildings damaged.

Deputy Head of Mission Zamshari Sahaharan at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta said they were encouraging all Malaysian who knew tourists in Lombok to contact consular officials. Shallow earthquakes tend to do more damage than deeper ones.

Six other people were injured at the guest house.

More than 40 people have been injured, and many fled into open fields away from collapsed buildings.

An quake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale struck Lombok at 5.47am yesterday. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.

Indonesia, an archipelago of some 17,000 islands, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismic activity hot spot.

In 2004, a huge magnitude-9.3 quake under the sea triggered a tsunami which killed 168,000 people in Indonesia, and a further 50,000 people in various countries around the Indian Ocean.

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