Dubai residents describe Indonesia earthquake horrors: 'I had to get my three children out of there'

Family forced to flee country over fears for safety

Orla Carbery pictured with her children Conor, Niamh and Aoife on holiday in Bali before the earthquake struck. Courtesy Orla Carbery
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UPDATE: Indonesia's Lombok island hit by third earthquake

UAE residents who fled Indonesia after an earthquake that killed more than 100 people have described the panic and destruction they saw on the islands of Lombok and Bali.

A family of five and a Dubai resident were among the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the 6.9-magnitude quake on Sunday.

It was the second earthquake to hit Lombok in a week.

Thousands of buildings were destroyed and hundreds injured throughout the region.

Orla Carbery, an Irish mother of three, experienced both earthquakes while staying in Umalas and Seminyak.

She and her family were among the tourists who fled the country, returning to Dubai. They had intended
to remain there until mid-­August.

“Nobody knows what it is like until you are caught up in it,” she said.

“The second earthquake on Sunday night was much stronger than the first so I had to make a decision and get my three children out of there.”

Ms Carbery was with her children Niamh, 9, Aoife, 6, and Conor, 5.

Her husband was due to join them on Friday but they chose to leave instead, fearing for their safety.

“We were in a restaurant in Seminyak right before the earthquake. There was a sensation like the room was going around and round, it felt like you were going to faint,” she said.

“I know now that it was the build up to the earthquake. All of a sudden the floor, tables and lights all started shaking, it was terrifying. I tried to grab the children, everyone was screaming and pushing to leave the building as soon as possible for fear of it collapsing.”

The ensuing chaos led to crowds of people running about in every direction, scrambling to get to safety, Ms Carbery said.

“I lost Conor for a few seconds because everybody was pushing each other out of the way to get to the door.

“Luckily a Dutch man there with his family had seen him and picked him up to safety and handed him over to me.”

The first earthquake struck on July 29 while the family was in Umalas.

"It was about 6.40am and, at first, I thought somebody was trying to break into the villa," she said.

“But then I pulled back the curtains and looked out to see the water in the swimming pool rocking back and forward in waves.”

Sandra Alain, a Canadian secondary schoolteacher in Dubai, was out for dinner on the island of Lembongan with a friend when the earthquake hit.

Sandra Alain in Indonesia before she was caught up in the earthquakes. Courtesy Sandra Alain.

“We were walking home when I noticed the streets were just full of people,” she said.

“There was a motorcade of locals all going the same direction on bikes. Tourists were coming out of their hotels and everybody was heading up hill and someone announced there had been a tsunami warning.”

She said staff in bars were ushering customers out and telling them to get to high ground as quickly as possible.

“People were stopping trucks in the street to try to get their friends and family on top of them,” she said. “It was a complete state of panic.”

It was only the generosity of another tourist that enabled Ms Alain to get a lift to safety on a scooter.

“I spent a few hours with the family of the woman who gave me a lift before I was brought home,” she said.

“It was a sleepless night trying not to panic in case there was another earthquake.”


Read more:

Indonesia earthquake: Collapsed mosque centre of rescue operation to save worshippers in Lombok

Death toll rises from powerful earthquake on Indonesia's Lombok as tourists flee


The aftershocks continued into the next night, with Ms Alain being woken up twice by them.

She said that she was inundated with messages from family and friends worried about her safety.

“There were friends staying on other islands that had their resorts destroyed,” she said.

“A lot of locals were telling us not to go to bed because there were was a likelihood of other earthquakes.”

She said families were being woken up in the middle of the night and being told to get to higher ground by the authorities.

On Wednesday, aid began arriving to the more isolated areas of Lombok island as the death toll continues to rise.

UPDATE: Indonesia's Lombok island hit by third earthquake