Lombok earthquakes: afraid to go home

Dewi Hanifah, emergency programme response manager for Kopernik

Dewi Hanifah will be sleeping in a tent tonight.

The emergency response programme manager with the relief agency Kopernik, which is supported by CARE, will be joining the rest of her team because they’re all worried the ground could shake again.

She says:

We don’t know what could happen. We might just fall asleep and then have to run.

A series of earthquakes

Dewi will join thousands across Lombok Island, Indonesia who will be sleeping in tents tonight, as they have been for the past few weeks.

The island has faced a series of earthquakes and aftershocks, which have instilled considerable fear in the local population.

It started with a 6.4 magnitude earthquake July 29, followed by a severe 7.0 on August 5, a 6.2 a couple of days later, and, most recently, on August 19 two more 6.3 and 6.9 earthquakes.

Dewi says:

That last one, at 11 o’clock at night, was a big one.


These strong quakes have been interspersed with hundreds of aftershocks. 

So far, 500 people have died, more than 7,700 injured and an estimated 3.5 million people affected.

A further 74,000 homes have been damaged, with 32,000 considered severe or completely destroyed.

This, along with damages to a hospital and health clinics, buildings, schools and bridges.

The Government of Indonesia is leading relief and recovery efforts to restore electricity and help meet urgent need.

The needs

CARE is supporting local partners, like Kopernik, to deliver hygiene and sanitation supplies, shelter kits and other basic items.

As experience shows women and girls are particularly vulnerable following a natural disaster, CARE will also conduct a gender assessment to ensure response efforts best meet the needs of women, girls, men and boys.

Right now, Dewi says people need tents, and in some of the cooler, mountainous areas, blankets and other relief supplies.

She adds that sanitation and hygiene is a growing concern. Currently, the earthquakes have displaced more than 400,000 people. Dewi says there are some areas where there are 400 displaced people and only one latrine.

With limited electricity, it’s also very dark at night and women and children are afraid to go out and use the toilet.

This is coupled with the trauma people have experienced.

Imagine the fear, the worry that comes when you don’t know how hard the ground will shake next. Or when it could happen again. 

Wingkan's story

Dewi recalls speaking with a woman named Wingkan, a mother of two young girls and a resident of Sembalun Bumbung, a village of a 6,400.

The August 5 earthquake destroyed the family’s home and they now live in a tent. 

Dewi says:

I asked her, ‘Can we see your house?’ And she said, ‘I’m still afraid to go there.

She gave directions, but didn’t want to return.

Wingkan is a farmer, with land next to a hillside. With frequent aftershocks, she’s scared of landslides and unable to continue her work.

Dewi says:

Now, she’s just sitting, sleeping, with nothing to do, but afraid to go home.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.