Destinations

Aussies urged not to travel to Lombok as quake death toll hits 347

The death toll of a massive earthquake that hit Lombok on Sunday night could be as high as 347, and Facebook has been accused of making light of the situation.

The magnitude 7 quake left tens of thousands of people homeless and many tourists stranded at airports as they scramble to leave Indonesia.

The ABC reports the national disaster agency has put the death toll at 131, but the government and military are reporting significantly higher numbers ranging from 226 to 381.

DFAT is advising Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Lombok, including the Gili Islands.

The most recent advice on the Smartraveller website advises travellers to: “Reconsider your need to travel to Lombok, including the Gili Islands, following the powerful earthquake of 5 August 2018.”

“The earthquake caused widespread damage to infrastructure and/or loss of life in North, West, Central, and East Lombok and the Gili Islands.”

According to the Smartraveller website, essential services are disrupted, medical facilities are under strain and there is risk of more aftershocks.

“Tourists are currently being evacuated from affected areas in north-east and west Lombok, and the Gili Islands. Many tourist facilities, including hotels and restaurants, are damaged or not operating,” said Smartraveller.

“Indonesian authorities are focussed on immediate relief efforts in what has been a serious natural disaster.”

In other earthquake news, Facebook is under fire for automatically decorating users posts about the deadly quakes with balloons and confetti.

The social media site has misinterpreted the meaning of the Indonesian word ‘selamat’, which means both ‘congratulations’ and ‘safe’. Many Indonesians have been using the word for its latter meaning in posts about the deadly earthquake.

“The feature (automatic animations for ‘congratulations’ in posts) is widely available on Facebook globally,” a spokeswoman for Facebook said in a statement.

“However we regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally.”

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