By Chris Lawton, 1st Option Head of High Risk.
Indonesia's Lombok Island suffered another 6.2 magnitude earthquake on Thursday 9th August, less than a week after a 6.9 magnitude shock left hundreds dead, and many more injured and homeless.
Any productions travelling to the area in the near future may find the following advice useful.
An earthquake is a sudden shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and and shifting of rock beneath the surface of the earth. They can occur at any time, day or night, without warning.
Earthquakes are typically very difficult to predict. However, aftershocks can be expected and both landslides and tsunamis are often triggered by earthquakes and these should be planned for. In the area around Lombok and the Gili Islands, there have been several significant aftershocks already. Anyone who is looking to travel to these areas needs to carefully consider their need for travel - checking in with our team here and the FCO for any updates.
The map shows the affected area and the strength of the shocks radiating from the epicentre (source: USGS).
Assessing the resilience of the building or location you are in is really important if you think that there is a risk of aftershocks. An initial earthquake can cause serious structural damage which any aftershocks can then make even worse, resulting in further building collapse, power lines falling, gas leaks… Buildings and structures which are on an unstable surfaces or show evidence of damage are often most at risk.
Preparedness is really important to be able to respond quickly and effectively to an earthquake. Check your fire escapes and withdrawal routes and know where your ‘safe’ place will be. It is a myth that doorways will protect you – they will not. What will is strong furniture away from windows and furniture that may collapse on you. Understand what is meant by ‘Drop’ (to the ground), ‘Cover’ (get cover) and ‘Hold On’ (self explanatory). A lot of people are hurt as they try to move whilst the ground is shifting, so there is an emphasis on limiting movement. If the location you are in have emergency plans for an earthquake, then familiarise yourself with them. Personally, I would recommend having a ‘grab bag’ with essential items ready to go by your bed and with you in high risk areas. Our equipment stores have pre designed personal grab bags ready to go or can work with you to build a bespoke kit list – get in touch quickly if you would like one of these.
If you do need to leave the area you are in, take the stairs (not the lift!) and find a clear area of ground. I remember standing in Nepal watching buildings and power lines fall in Kathmandu as a large earthquake struck. Although the crowd of people I was with were worried and upset by the damage, they were safe as we were in a large open area.
After the shaking has stopped, check your immediate area for risks – including structural damage. Those who have completed one of our travel safety, hostile environment courses or first aid courses will have their training to call upon here! Get to a safe place and look after any injured people – remembering assistance may be essential, but that the emergency services are likely to be very stretched. Having a good first aid kit and a trained first aider or medic is really important. Risks such as fire and further structural collapse are clearly heightened after an earthquake – plus the likelihood of gas leaks goes up – if you need to get clear then do so. Dangerous substances may have leaked and so be cautious of this risk – equally keep an eye out for any children – unfortunately those who have lost parents or family are really vulnerable in the aftermath of a disaster and getting them to someone who cares, quickly, is a great thing to have done.
For further specific guidance or support, or if you require any equipment to help you in the area please contact firstname.lastname@example.org