Ministry confirms 17 Malaysian survivors of Lombok quake return home

Ministry confirms 17 Malaysian survivors of Lombok quake return home

Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA) - Malaysia's Foreign Ministry confirmed that 17 Malaysian tourists, who got trapped in the Tiu Kelep Waterfall area in Lombok Island, Indonesia, after a 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck on Mar 17, had returned home, Tuesday afternoon.

Boarding Air Asia's AK309 flight from the Zainuddin Abdul Madjid International Airport in Mataram, the capital city of West Nusa Tenggara Province, the quake survivors were scheduled to arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) at around 3:15 p.m. local time.

The Malaysian Foreign Ministry also revealed in its press statement that the bodies of Tai Siew Kim and Lim Sai Wah, who had died in the Lombok earthquake, were also flown back to be handed over to their mourning families on Tuesday afternoon.

Their coffins were transported by Garuda Indonesia's GA816 flight that was scheduled to arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 5:10 p.m. local time, while four other Malaysian citizens, who had survived the landslide at the waterfall tourist site, triggered by the earthquake, are still being treated at the Mataram Public Hospital.

The Malaysian Foreign Ministry has highly lauded the Indonesian government and local administrations in West Nusa Tenggara Province for their sound cooperation with the Malaysian Embassy authorities in Jakarta and for their assistance to the victims.

Malaysian citizens traveling abroad are called on to register themselves at the Malaysian representative offices in their destination countries.

In connection with the recent earthquake, the Indonesian government had urged local residents and tourists to remain calm and not be influenced by rumors and misleading information in response to the catastrophe.

The Indonesian government also pledged to cover the costs related to medical treatment, medicines, and funeral for all victims of the earthquake, Guntur Sakti, spokesman of the Indonesian Tourism Ministry, informed journalists in Jakarta on 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 the Tiu Kelep Waterfall area, one of the resort island's popular tourist sites, he noted.

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, noted.

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

Sakti also ensured that the West Nusa Tenggara provincial government will cover all costs related to medical treatment of the wounded victims and funeral of the deceased.

"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 noted.

The landslide had led to some 40 tourists getting trapped in the tourist site of Tiu Kelep waterfall in Senaru Village, North Lombok District, on Sunday, Mujaddin Muhas, spokesman of the North Lombok district government, stated 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 on Sunday at around 2:07 p.m. local time, but it did not trigger a tsunami.

The earthquake's epicenter was located some 24 kilometers (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.