THOUSANDS of tourists have scrambled to packed beaches to be rescued from paradise islands in Indonesia after a massive earthquake that is feared to have left at least 140 dead.

Shocking footage showed a mad scramble to board tiny boats off Gili Trawangan in the wake of the magnitude-7 quake which has now reportedly killed more than 140 people and injured more than 200 across Bali and Lombok.

British teacher James Kelsall, 28, described scenes of utter chaos on nearby Gili Trawangan where Navy officers allegedly kicked locals to stop them climbing on boats.

Kelsall, from London, said tourists and locals were stranded on the palm-fringed island off the coast of Lombok for more than six hours on Monday, reports The Sun.

Speaking from a beach as he awaited evacuation, he said: "There was rumbling and then all the power went off. We ran to the beach to be clear of buildings which we could hear falling all around."

Michelle Thompson, an American who was holidaying on one of the Gilis with her husband, described a violent "scramble" to get on boats leaving for the main island.

She said: "People were just throwing their suitcases on board and I had to struggle to get my husband on because he was bleeding."

Muhammad Faozal, head of West Nusa Tenggara's tourism agency, said: "We cannot evacuate all of them all at once because we don't have enough capacity on the boats.

"It's understandable they want to leave the Gilis, they are panicking."

Some areas still hadn't been reached because rescuers have been slowed down by collapsed bridges, electricity blackouts and damaged roads.

All but two of the dead were killed on Lombok; the others died on Bali. More than 230 people were seriously injured. Thousands of homes and buildings were damaged and those displaced camped wherever they could - in sports fields and on roadsides, cobbling together ramshackle shelters and building campfires for warmth.

ITourists struggled to get on-board a boat that would get them off the island. Picture: AP
ITourists struggled to get on-board a boat that would get them off the island. Picture: AP

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and a team of Australian delegates escaped from the 12th floor of a Lombok hotel, after Sunday's quake brought down parts of the building.

Other Australians have told of running for their lives, including resort manager Evan Burns who fled 3km with his wife and toddler son up a nearby mountain, fearing a tsunami.

"The force was so severe that it threw us out of bed, and the walls immediately started cracking," he told AAP on Monday.

He estimates 70 per cent of his Senggigi resort's guests have made their way to the airport but are stuck there, with flights unable to cope with the mass exodus.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian officials were making their way to Lombok to help Aussies caught up in the disaster.

Power and communications were severed in some areas, with landslides and a collapsed bridge blocking access to areas around the epicentre in the north. The Indonesian military said it would send a ship with medical aid, supplies and logistics support.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said emergency units in hospitals were overflowing and some patients were being treated in parking lots. The main hospital in the town of Tanjung in the north was severely damaged, so staff set up about 30 beds in the shade of trees and in a tent on a field to tend to the injured.

Despite it being a popular tourist destination, no foreigners were recorded among the dead, BNPB spokesman Nugroho told a news conference. Some 236 people were injured and more than 20,000 displaced, he said. The Indonesian Red Cross said on Twitter it had helped a woman give birth at a makeshift health care station after the quake.

One of the names she gave the baby boy was "Gempa", which means earthquake. Long lines formed at the airport of Lombok's main town, Mataram, as foreign visitors cut their holidays short. BNPB said 18 extra flights had been added for leaving tourists.

- with The Sun



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