Six Rotorua people were at a Bali nightclub when a deadly earthquake struck Indonesia, killing at least 82 people and leaving dozens injured.
Rotorua freelance photographer Peter Graney has told of his shock as the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck early last night.
Graney has told the Rotorua Daily Post this morning he and five other locals, who he didn’t name, were on the top floor of a Bali nightclub celebrating a birthday when the quake hit the tourist island.
“At first we were unsure what was going on as the building slowly swayed. Then the intensity rapidly increased and we realised we were in a major earthquake situation. People started crying around us and running for the exits.
“We quickly decided the exits were narrow and joining the stampede towards the stairs was unwise. The extreme shaking went on for about a minute and at that stage it was obvious that being four storeys up with restricted exits was problematic.”
Graney said with the knowledge the building had held up well the group decided to stay where they were.
“Then about 15 minutes later a second earthquake hit. Less intense but frightening. We decided to try for the exit. The staff member near the exit yelled to get out before another panic rush.”
He said when they got to the street to their surprise restaurants and nightclubs were operating and music kept playing. However, hotels had evacuated their guests and large groups were standing around, some with their suitcases packed.
“The taxi we grabbed wanted double the normal fare which we gladly paid. When we exited our taxi tourists were walking around in shock. Many talking about their hotel having cracks and unsure if they could return to sleep,” Graney said.
He said the plan was to leave Bali as soon as possible.
“I want to get out of here but reports are coming in of some damage to the airport so l will wait till morning to see if flights have been cleared,” he said.
“We have all gone to our hotel rooms but we are leaving our doors unlocked and passports beside the bed. We have no idea what aftershocks will occur and how this is going to play out.”
The latest quake, which triggered a brief tsunami warning, damaged buildings as far away as Denpasar on Bali, including a department store and the airport terminal, where ceiling panels were shaken loose, authorities said.
Disaster agency officials have told Indonesian TV that the death toll has risen to 39.
The earthquake is at a depth of 10.5km in the northern part of Lombok.
The tsunami warning was lifted after waves just 15cm high were recorded in three villages, said the head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, Dwikorita Karnawati.