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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

Indonesia earthquake: Collapsed mosque centre of rescue operation to save worshippers in Lombok

Rescue workers estimate 50 people were trapped in the Jabal Nur mosque

A mosque toppled by an earthquake in Indonesia is at the centre of a rescue operation to find survivors among those praying when the tremors struck.

A man was pulled alive from the rubble of Jabal Nur mosque in the north of Lombok island. Video shows soldiers helping the man out of the rubble as they shout "thank God".

"You're safe, mister," one of the rescue workers tells the man, who was overcome with emotion after he was rescued from a space under the mosque's collapsed roof on Monday.

A man who escaped from the mosque said there were about 100 people praying inside when the earthquake hit.

Distraught from the trauma, Muhamad Juanda told AP, "People were praying in two rows; there are about 50 people in each row so a total of 100 people praying inside the mosque.

"I stayed (inside) during the first shock but the shock grew stronger and we rolled around trying to run out and I was already outside ... when the mosque collapsed."

The local village head estimated that, based on the belongings outside the mosque, about 30 people were trapped.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said he hoped "a lot" of people can be saved from the mosque.

Two more people were rescued from the mosque on Monday, including a woman with a broken leg, but three were found dead.

More than 130 people were killed by the earthquake on Sunday, which left at least 20,000 people homeless.

Jabal Nur mosque, which has now been reduced to rubble, had a distinctive green dome, now partially collapsed.

Rescue workers were using heavy-duty machinery to lift large chunks of rubble and cut through tangled mounds of debris in the area.

Footage of an imam continuing prayers at a different mosque in Bali, despite the on-going earthquake has been shared across social media. The religious leader can be seen supporting himself against the wall of the mosque as he streamed prayers on social media.

Other worshippers left when the earthquake started, but returned when they saw Musholla As Syuhada Blk continuing his prayers.

Thousands of tourists were stranded on the Indonesian islands, while homeless locals waited for aid. Some tourists set up camp on beaches, in Lombok airport, or stayed in hotel lobbies.

Aid organisations, already on the island of Lombok due to the smaller earthquake which struck a week earlier, stepped up their aid efforts yesterday.

Oxfam said more than 20,000 people were in temporary shelters, a dry weather caused issues with obtaining drinking water, and food, medical supplies, and tarpaulins were urgently needed.

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