Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Government has urged local residents and tourists to remain calm and not get influenced by rumours and misleading information in response to the 5.4-magnitude earthquake that rocked Lombok Island Sunday, March 17.

The Indonesian Government also pledged to cover the costs of medical treatment, medicine, and funeral of all victims of the earthquake, Spokesman of the Indonesian Tourism Ministry Guntur Sakti told journalists in Jakarta Monday.

The tourism ministry has been coordinating with the regional governments and other related agencies to handle those affected by the quake that had triggered a landslide at Tiu Kelep Waterfall area, one of the resort island's popular tourist sites, he said.

Due to this catastrophe, two Malaysian tourists identified as Tai Siaw Kim and Lim Sai Wah, as well as a local resident died, Sakti who is also head of the ministry's Tourism Crisis Center, said.

The Indonesian Government would do its best to rescue and evacuate 22 Malaysian tourists from the disaster zone.

Sakti also ensured that all costs of medical treatment of the wounded victims and funeral of the dead ones would be covered by the West Nusa Tenggara provincial government.

"The transportation of bodies of the two deceased to their families in Malaysia will also be handled by the West Nusa Tenggara provincial government. We are deeply saddened by this disaster," he said.

The landslide had caused around 40 tourists to get trapped in the tourist site of Tiu Kelep waterfall in Senaru Village, North Lombok District on Sunday, spokesman of the North Lombok District Government Mujaddin Muhas said earlier. Most of the tourists are from Malaysia.

Certain areas of West Nusa Tenggara Province, including North Lombok District, were rocked by the 5.4-magnitude earthquake Sunday at around 02.07 pm local time but it did not trigger a tsunami.

The earthquake's epicenter was located around 24 km east of East Lombok District, 36 km northeast of North Lombok District, 37 km northwest of Panjang Island in Sumbawa District, and 63 km northeast of Mataram, the capital city of West Nusa Tenggara Province, according to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

Indonesia lies on the Circum-Pacific Belt, also known as the Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet and cause frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

As a result, several parts of the archipelago are prone to earthquakes, including the deadly earthquakes in Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara Province, and Palu, the capital city of Central Sulawesi Province.

During 2018, Indonesia was hit by a total of 11,577 earthquakes, including several of them that caused serious casualties, with the number increasing significantly as compared to that in 2017.

A string of strong earthquakes that repeatedly rocked Lombok Island in 2018 had caused serious catastrophes.

Reporter: Hanni S, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Gusti Nur Cahya Aryani
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