Australian Giovanna Ferraioli (L) and her partner Damien La Cava part of tourist evacuate from Gili Trawangan in Lombok to Bali. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro
Australian Giovanna Ferraioli (L) and her partner Damien La Cava part of tourist evacuate from Gili Trawangan in Lombok to Bali. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro

Aussies tell of earthquake terror

AUSTRALIAN tourists on the Indonesian Gili Islands have told of their terror at being caught up in the weekend earthquake and of the panic that followed.

Arriving back in Bali last night on boats after spending two nights outdoors on the stricken islands the holiday-makers told of the chaos to board boats and of huddling together during terrifying aftershocks and tremors.

Giovanna Ferraioli and her boyfriend Damien La Cava, from Sydney, were having dinner when the earthquake struck about 6.45pm on Sunday evening.

She said it began with weird noises and wind before "everything started shaking really badly".

"I remember looking to the restaurant where we were eating and the lights went down straight away. And it was shaking for like 10 seconds or a little bit more and then everything stopped and people started panicking and running and screaming." Ms Ferraioli said.

"We tried to calm ourselves down, I didn't want to run and get into the crowd because I am pregnant, I was trying to avoid this kind of stuff."

She said a kindly hotel owner was an "angel" and allowed them to stay for two nights in an open area.

Houses damaged by an earthquake are seen in North Lombok, Indonesia. Picture: AP
Houses damaged by an earthquake are seen in North Lombok, Indonesia. Picture: AP

The couple tried to get on a boat evacuating tourists from the island on the Monday but it was chaotic, people were being punched and shoved, so they stayed a second night.

"(On Monday) we were trying to come back on the boats, but people were punching each other, it was pretty violent so we had to stay one more night. We thought we were going to be safe but there was another earthquake during the night."

Her boyfriend, Damien La Cava, said he was relieved, tired and exhausted after the ordeal.

He said the only way to get water and food during the two days was from local stores, where people had broken in, because there was no other way.

Australian Nathan Colgan part of tourist evacuate from Gili Trawangan in Lombok to Bali. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro
Australian Nathan Colgan part of tourist evacuate from Gili Trawangan in Lombok to Bali. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro

Nathan Colgan from Perth said the reality was worse than what had appeared on the media and that the experience had been surreal.

"When it was going on it was very violent and buildings came crashing down instantaneously and despite all the damage its surprising how few people were injured," Mr Colgan said after arriving back in Bali on Tuesday night.

"It was just surreal and then the aftershocks through the two nights we had to stay on the island, up the mountain and down the beach, we stayed away from all the buildings.

"We are just happy to be back in Bali now, we just feel sorry for the people of Gili Island … The islanders helped us out, brought food and water to us," he said.

"It hasn't set in yet (trauma) but it was terrible. We saw lots of bad things, a lot of damage and a lot of lives ruined, people have had their whole lives destroyed."

The Australians were among 314 tourists evacuated by boat last night from the Gili Islands.

At least 105 people are dead following the earthquake and another 236 people have been injured, according to the government's disaster management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. He told the Antara News Agency that the casualty numbers could rise as the search continued for survivors.



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