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UK moves to assist tourists affected by Indonesia earthquake

A rescue team searches for victims in the rubble caused by an earthquake in North Lombok, Indonesia. PIC: AP
A rescue team searches for victims in the rubble caused by an earthquake in North Lombok, Indonesia. PIC: AP
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The British Government is sending consular staff to earthquake-shattered Lombok after hundreds of tourists were left stranded.

A magnitude 7.0 quake wreaked destruction across Indonesian islands including Lombok, the Gili archipelago and neighbouring Bali.

At least 91 people were killed as houses were flattened and bridges toppled, authorities said, but none are believed to be foreign nationals.

The Foreign Office said staff were being sent to Lombok from the consulate in Bali and embassy in capital Jakarta to assist stranded British tourists.

Extra flights have also been added to help holidaymakers who want to leave, a spokesman added.

Sunday’s disturbance triggered a tsunami warning which led to scenes of panic and later a rush to the coast by those desperate for rescue.

Young families and couples on their honeymoon were among those caught up in the chaos.

Helen Brady, 29, a writer from Manchester, said she and her boyfriend James Kelsall, 28, narrowly escaped death after the earthquake on Gili Trawangan brought buildings crashing down.

She told the Press Association: “All the lights went out and most buildings (were) demolished.

“If we’d have been one minute slower we’d have been dead, or at the very least severely injured.”

Also affected were celebrities including Take That singer Gary Barlow and model Chrissy Teigen.

Barlow wrote on Twitter that he had been involved in seven earthquakes, but “none have felt more deep and raw” as Sunday’s in Bali.

Teigen, who was travelling with singer husband John Legend and their two children, wrote on Twitter: “Oh man. We are on stilts. It felt like a ride. 15 solid seconds of “hooooooly s*** this is happening.”

Thousands fled to higher ground amid fears a tsunami would surge in following the quake.

Mr Kelsall, from Woodford Green in London, said “All the locals were frantically running and screaming, putting on life jackets.”

He added: “We followed them up to higher ground, which was a steep, uneven climb to the top of a hill in darkness.”

Power had still not been restored to the island by Monday morning, Mr Kelsall said.

Tourists flocking to the coast in search of rescue were confronted by mayhem.

Footage from Monday morning showed crowds scrambling aboard a boat in a frenzied bid to escape.

Ash Flay, whose sister Katy was stuck on Gili Trawangan with her partner Stef, said the rescue effort had been a “disgrace” and authorities were demanding money from tourists.

In a message to her brother, Ms Flay, from Leeds, said: “Boats (are) leaving half empty as you need a ticket... no boats for everyone just selected people.

“People are punching and hitting each other.”

Others stuck on the island included a family of four from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.

The group included two children, aged five and seven, according to a relative, who asked to keep their identities anonymous.

“The kids are quite traumatised, I’ve spoken to my daughter and she’s clearly very frightened and very scared - frankly they just want to come home,” he said.

Sunday’s earthquake came after Lombok was rocked by a series of similar quakes on July 29.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: “We are working with the Indonesian authorities to provide assistance to British people caught up in the earthquake in Lombok and the Gili islands.

“FCO consular staff are deploying to Lombok to provide assistance to those who need it.

“Bali and Lombok airports are open and running a full service. Extra flights are being added to help people who wish to leave Lombok.

“Anyone travelling to the area should check the latest FCO travel advice which is being regularly updated.”