Eltham ex-pat caught up in ‘chaos’ on Indonesian earthquake islands


A diving instructor caught up in the devastating earthquakes in Indonesia is calling for support.

Ash Embi, of Eltham, was washing down his diving gear after a night dive when a massive earthquake hit the Gili islands where he works on Sunday of last week.

The 6.9-magnitude quake has devastated Indonesia and the surrounding islands, with the official death toll rising past the 300 mark.

Mr Embi has been evacuated to Bali, where he is trying to get aid and supplies back to the devastated islands.

Mr Embi, who grew up in Mottingham Road, said: “It was chaos. Buildings were crumbling around us.

Everybody on the island rushed to the beach to get away from collapsing buildings. “Electricity went out across the island, so it was pitch black.

I tried to help as many people as I could.

“One man was bleeding from his head and hip. I tried to give him oxygen and stop the bleeding.

It was horrible. “I saw another woman who had been hit by part of a building. They both passed away.”

The quake, which directly hit Lombok Island on Sunday, August 5, sent massive shock waves across the ocean to where Mr Embi was on Gili Trawangan.

The Indonesian government released a tsunami warning on the morning of Monday, August 6. A tsunami in 2005, which hit the Indonesian islands, killed more than 150,000 people.

The 32-year-old said: “The Government’s tsunami warning created mass hysteria on the island. Everyone was thinking about 2005.

They ran from the beach to the highest point on the island.” Later the Government lifted the warning and a rescue operation was initiated.

On Tuesday morning the police and military arrived. Mr Embi said: “Tensions had been rising. There was a lot of looting.

The police came with guns and that sort of calmed things down. Mr Embi, who has worked as a diving instructor in Indonesia for four years, was evacuated from Gili Trawangan on Tuesday August 7. He said:

“I’ve only really had two wobbles. One was when we arrived in Bali. People were there waiting for us with food and helped us. “I couldn’t speak. We were just not expecting that.

“The other wobble was on the beach after the first quake. I went down to there and had a bit of a melt down. I’d just seen two people die. That is difficult to process. “But our dive centre is like a family. Whenever someone loses it, we get together to help them.”

On Bali Mr Embi and his dive centre team have regrouped and are now trying to get food and supplies back to Gili Trawangan.

Mr Embi said: “The aim now is to rebuild the island. People need to know that the islands can be back up and running soon.

“If you’ve ever seen the Indonesians work, you’d know how quickly they can sort this out. We just need a bit of help.

The Government refuses to declare that it is a crisis, so it means international aid cannot be given.

“We’re now appealing to friends, family and anyone back home to contribute what they can.” A crowdfunding page has been set up.

To donate go to: www.gofundme.com/lobok.earthquake.support

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