Dutch-run children's home destroyed in Lombok earthquake

Highway on the Indonesian island of Lombok, 16 June 2017
Highway on the Indonesian island of Lombok, 16 June 2017Photo: Suryanata budi / Wikimedia Commons

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 hit the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday afternoon. At least 91 people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands of homes were destroyed. The earthquake also destroyed a children's home run by Dutch man Chaim Fetter. "It is a massive tragedy. You build something for 14 years and it is destroyed in less than 10 seconds. But luckily all the children are unharmed", he said to NOS.

Fetter sheltered 80 street children in four homes and a school on the island. When the earthquake hit, the children were all in the mosque, an open space. Fetter was standing in the doorway of his foundation Peduli Anak's office. "If the children had not been in the prayer room, there would have been a lot of victims", he said to the broadcaster over the telephone. 

One of the four houses collapsed completely, a second home's roof caved in, the third lost a number of walls. The fourth home still has a few walls standing, but is not safe. Roof tiles and debris are everywhere. Fetter, his staff and volunteers hung up a few flashlights for light after the electricity cut out. They and the kids spent the night outside. On Monday he will go buy a tent. "At least we will have shelter then. [Monday morning] we will make an inventory of what can still be used. But it does not look good. We will need help in rebuilding. As a small foundation, we have little money."

The earthquake left the children, between the ages of 18 months and 18 years, in shock, Fetter said. "There were a lot of aftershocks. We warned them about it and we reassured them, but with every aftershock they were very upset and crying." The children Fetter's foundation cares for were all previously neglected, abused or exploited. 

Sunday's earthquake was the second one to hit Lombok in a week's time, according to RTL Nieuws. The previous one left 15 people dead and dozens hurt.

Lombok is a popular holiday destination among Dutch tourists. Whether any Dutch were hurt or killed on Sunday, is not yet clear.