Lipah, part of the village of Bunutan, on August 5, 2018, 19:46. Many of the tourists brave enough to come to Bunutan, the easternmost tip of Bali, closest to the neighbouring island of Lombok, despite last week's 6.4 earthquake, are currently ordering their dinner in a restaurant or warung. It's an unusually cold day, overcast and windy. We are clearing the empty salad bowls of our appetizer, when the house starts to creak. The table shakes, bottles and glasses wobble before any of us even understand what's going on. In the next second, the whole world seems to be shaking, like last week. But instead of flaring off after a few seconds, the quake continues this time. Screams of fear can be heard from everywhere, glass splinters in the kitchen, the house groans over us, tiles slip off the roof and crash onto the ground. And then it suddenly stops.
A first look reveals a picture of devastation in the kitchen, where bottles and glasses have jumped off the shelves and crashed to the floor. The brown liquid of vinegar, soy sauce and coconut oil, in which the broken pieces lie, doesn't do anything to makes the sight more pleasant. However, we have little time to examine the full extent of the damage, because we can hear screaming from the street: The water level of the sea is dropping. More and more motorbikes pass our property, and all have the same destination: the hill behind us. We abandon everything and join the Exodus. Most of us are picked up by one of the many motorbikes, the rest of the group runs until we are having a stitch, because the hill is steep.
At the construction site of the new health post, about 50 meters above sea level, we see each other again, together with about 100 villagers. Time and again the motorbikes go down to fetch locals and tourists, while the earth below us is shaken by small aftershocks. We find many of our neighbours and friends up here. Everyone is in shock, like us. No one of them has ever experienced such a strong earthquake. It rains easily, a rare event in the dry season in this region. Slowly, information from the outside world dribbles to us: magnitude 7.0, epicenter Lombok, tsunami warning for our region, aftershocks expected. Although the tsunami warning is soon lifted, we decide to spend the night in the small bale at the health post, in case strong aftershocks trigger a renewed warning. Our thoughts are with the people in Lombok, while we are slightly shivering on the hard wood of the Bale.
The morning reveals the damage: a lot of broken glass, most roof tiles are lying shattered in the kitchen garden, the terrace has been lowered a few centimeters, the walls have many cracks. But the house with the music room worries us the most: a few structural beams have suspicious cracks that we do not like at all. Hearts sinking, we evacuate the building until an expert can tell us whether the structural integrity of the building has been compromised. Hearts sinking, because the immediate consequence is that we have to cancel our charity concert on Saturday for lack of rehearsal opportunities.
The actual victims can once again be found in the local population. Of course, the people in Lombok were struck most heavily by the catastrophe. Closely followed by the inhabitants of our region because here the quake was stronger than in the remaining part of Bali. Not only did frightened tourists break off their vacations once more, now many residents have damaged houses that could collapse at any time in the event of a stronger aftershock.
PS: Just when I am finishing the blog, we are again shaken by a short quake, this time 5.9.