Indonesia Promises Aid for Quake-struck Lombok

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Lombok island Monday and promised financial aid to people who lost their homes in Sunday's powerful earthquake.

He also urged people to be prepared for any calamity. "We must be aware that our country is in the Ring of Fire, so people need to be prepared to face any disaster," the president said.

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia because it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines around the Pacific Basin.

Hundreds of hikers and guides who had been stranded on Mount Rinjani began their trek down the mountain Monday after some paths off the mountain were found and cleared.

Emergency workers in helicopters have been deployed to look for the stranded and drop emergency aid.

The Rinjani National Park chief said at least 500 people, many of them foreigners, had spent the night on the mountain because they could not find a passage unaffected by the landslides. Mount Ringani is the site of Indonesia's second highest volcano.

Indonesian disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Metro TV that more than 5,100 people have taken refuge in temporary shelters and are in need of clean water.

An evacuee at a shelter said the shelters lack basic supplies. "We also need milk for the children, diapers. There are no blankets," he said.

The death toll from the earthquake is 16, with 162 people injured.

Thousands of homes were damaged, but the East Lombok district was particularly hard hit. Reports say more than a thousand homes in that area alone were mangled.

The shallow, 7-kilometer-deep earthquake hit the popular tourist destination early Sunday, rousing people from their beds and sending them into the streets and open fields to avoid collapsing buildings.

Officials say the region has experienced at least 124 aftershocks, but no tsunami was triggered.

Source: Voice of America