Dozens of Dutch still stranded after Lombok earthquake

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

Dozens of Dutch tourists are still stuck on and around Lombok after a massive earthquake hit the Indonesian island on Sunday. Evacuations are chaotic. All departing flights are fully booked and there are long queues at the airport. And boats are struggling to evacuate the mass of people, relatives of stranded Dutch told newspaper AD.

Joep and Lieke from Uden are still stuck on the island of Gili Trawangan in the northwest of Lombok, brother Max said to the newspaper. "A few boats have left for Lombok, but they are seriously wondering what is waiting for them there. That is closer to the epicenter and there too are thousands of people who want to leave", he said. They'd prefer to go directly to Bali and return to the Netherlands from there. Max is trying to gather information and possibilities for the couple. "The hostel where they slept has partly collapsed, but they were taken in by a resort on the coast. They're sleeping in the garden there."

Pien Pouwels' cousin is also stranded on a Gili island. She's gathering information on options to get away for him. A video he sent her from the beach showed chaos, she said to the newspaper. Hundreds of people are waiting for boats to take them off the island, but not all boats actually make it to the shore. "Everything is super unclear. Then the boats will sail. Then not. Then they go to Lombok. Then to Bali", Pouwels said. Her cousin is spending the night on a hill, in the open air. "Fortunately they still have enough to eat and drink. The worst thing is the uncertainty about how they're getting out of there."

According to the national office for disaster management BNPB, a total of 358 were rescued from the Gili islands in five evacuations on Monday - 208 tourists and 150 locals. Some 700 tourists are still stuck on the islands. Tides and waves are hindering the evacuation process. 

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs received hundreds of reports from Dutch people stuck on Lombok on Monday. A support center was set up in the Dmax hotel, near the Lombok airport, to support EU residents trying to leave the island. Staff from the Dutch embassy in Indonesia are there to assist Dutch.