BALI, INDONESIA — Delegates to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit on this resort island were jolted out of sleep by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake early on Thursday.
Even the Philippines’ President Duterte was roused by the rocking of his bed at Patra Bali Resort & Villas when the earthquake struck at 2:44 a.m.
The earthquake collapsed homes on Indonesia’s Java Island, killing at least three people, and shook the tourist hot spot of Bali, according to early reports.
Centered at sea
Indonesia’s disaster agency said the quake was centered at sea, 55 kilometers northeast of Situbondo City, and also felt in Lombok.
The temblor came two weeks after a powerful earthquake and a tsunami devastated Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi, leaving more than 2,000 people dead and more than 5,000 others missing.
Asean was holding its annual summit in Bali when Thursday’s quake struck.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also are holding annual meetings on the resort island through Sunday.
Joking about tsunami
According to President Duterte’s longtime aide Christopher “Bong” Go, the President and some of his officials joked at a private meeting on Wednesday about a tsunami hitting Bali while the Asean leaders were on the island.
“We were jokingly discussing what if there is a tsunami and all of the (Asean) leaders are here. We thought everyone would be wiped out, We were just joking then,” Go told reporters on Thursday, after a symbolic handover to the Indonesian government of $500,000 worth of Philippine aid to survivors of the Sept. 28 earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi.
Go said he was about to retire for the night when the earthquake struck.
He said he immediately went out to check on the President, whom he found already awake.
“I asked the [Presidential Security Group] if there is an escape route and they had prepared one,” Go said.
He said there was no need to evacuate the President, who went back to sleep after the ground stopped shaking.
Search for bodies ends
He said Bali had no history of tsunami, although earthquakes were frequent.
But he added that there were contingencies for disaster on the island.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for Indonesia’s disaster agency, said the death toll from the double disaster on Sept. 28 had risen to 2,045, with most of the fatalities in the coastal city of Palu.
More than 80,000 people were living in temporary shelters or otherwise displaced, he said.
He said possibly more than 5,000 were buried in places where the earthquake caused liquefaction, a phenomenon where wet soil weakens and collapses, becoming mud that sucks houses and everything else into the ground in a quicksand-like effect.
Stretches of the coastline were trashed by the tsunami that Nugroho said had waves up to 11 meters high.
The official search for bodies ended on Thursday with mass prayers in hard-hit neighborhoods, but Nugroho said volunteers and family members could continue searching. —WITH A REPORT FROM AP
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