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Lombok earthquake: Britons tell of panic as they evacuate Gili islands
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Lombok earthquake: Britons tell of panic as they evacuate Gili islands

Tourists say authorities asked them to pay to board rescue boats

British tourists have told of confusion and panic as they waited to be evacuated from small islands off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, after it was hit by a powerful earthquake.

Holidaymakers on Gili Trawangan described buildings collapsing around them on Sunday night during a 6.9-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 98 people. Locals led tourists to higher ground after tsunami warnings sounded.

Some holidaymakers said authorities carrying out an evacuation of the island had demanded money before allowing people on to rescue boats.

Speaking from a beach as he awaited evacuation, James Kelsall, 28, a teacher from Woodford Green in London, told the Press Association: “There were lots of injuries and pain on the island from buildings that had collapsed on to people.
“The most terrifying part was the tsunami warning that followed. All the locals were frantically running and screaming, putting on lifejackets. We followed them up to higher ground, which was a steep, uneven climb to the top of a hill in darkness.”

The UK government said it was sending consular staff to assist stranded British tourists. Extra flights have been scheduled to help holidaymakers who want to leave, a UK Foreign Office spokesman added.

Helen Brady, 29, a writer from Manchester, said she and her boyfriend had narrowly escaped death after the earthquake began while they were walking through Gili Trawangan.

“All the lights went out and most buildings [were] demolished. If we’d been one minute slower, we would’ve been dead, or at the very least severely injured,” Brady said.

She said there had been confusion after that point, adding: “[Because] it’s a small island, no one knows what to do ... We climbed up to the highest point and then they lifted the warning, so everyone went down and slept on the beach.”

Brady said she had been waiting for a rescue boat on the beach for eight hours.

Katy Flay, 33, who was on holiday in the area with her partner, Stef, 29, told her brother authorities were demanding money from tourists before allowing them on to rescue boats.

“We have tried to get on many boats. Boats [are] leaving half empty as you need a ticket ... no boats for everyone, just selected people. People are punching and hitting each other,” she told him.

East of Gili Trawangan, in Bali, Gary Barlow tweeted his thanks to well-wishers concerned for his safety.

The model Chrissie Teigen, who was also in Bali, live-tweeted an account of the tremors. “Oh my god,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “Bali. Trembling. So long. Phewwwwww.

“Oh man. We are on stilts. It felt like a ride. 15 solid seconds of “hooooooly shit this is happening.’ I very calmly walked outside saying clutching baby saying ‘I’m naked. I’m naked. I’m naked.’ Like a naked zombie.”

In Gili Air, the closest of the three Gili islands to Lombok, Simon, a solicitor from London who preferred not to disclose his surname, said he and his partner were about to order dinner when they felt the ground shake.

“Within seconds it was pitch black as all the electricity cut out and you could only be guided by shouts and screams in the dark,” he said.

“We spent the night on the beach and then in the morning we went to the harbour. [The response] was completely uncoordinated, there were hundreds of people surrounding the jetty. Boats coming into different places, it was a complete free-for-all. Eventually we managed to get on a boat to Lombok, at a cost.”

Indonesia’s disaster agency said late on Monday that at least 2,700 people had been evacuated from the Gili islands. Authorities initially said 1,200 people were stuck. Some tourists chose to stay behind, the agency said.

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Lombok earthquake: Britons tell of panic as they evacuate Gili islands

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