Rocks were raining down on us, says Lombok quake survivor from Penang

Watawa Nataf Zulkifli speaks during a press conference at the Komtar building in George Town August 1, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Watawa Nataf Zulkifli speaks during a press conference at the Komtar building in George Town August 1, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 1 — Watawa Nataf Zulkifli, a Malaysian hiker who was safely rescued from Lombok, Indonesia, said it was a miracle that his group escaped from Mount Rinjani alive.

The Penang state information department assistant officer said they had just eaten breakfast at 6.45am on July 29 when the ground shook.

“Rocks were raining down all around the lake where we were camped and I saw another group of hikers from Thailand running out to the open space,” he told a press conference today.

The 32-year-old, who arrived here at 5.30pm yesterday, said there were only five Malaysians in their group.

“We immediately started packing up and we had to leave the Segara Anak Lake to a safer location,” he said.

He said the group hiked through narrow trails before stopping at a valley between Mount Rinjani and Sangkereang Mountain to spend the night.

“Throughout the hike, we can still hear the rocks falling down the mountain,” he said.

A group photo of Watawa Nataf Zulkifli (second right) along with his group on Mount Rinjani at Lombok, Indonesia. — Picture courtesy of Watawa Nataf Zulkifli
A group photo of Watawa Nataf Zulkifli (second right) along with his group on Mount Rinjani at Lombok, Indonesia. — Picture courtesy of Watawa Nataf Zulkifli

He said they also had to ration their food supplies as they were not sure how long they would be stranded there.

He said the guides checked the trails the next day and found the track going downhill was blocked.

“We had to go back to Pelawangan Camp at about 9am,” he said.

He said they received a call from the Malaysian Embassy at noon before they went down to Sembalun village.

“We arrived safely at about 5.30pm and that’s where we heaved a sigh of relief, I felt as if I was given a second chance at life,” he said.

Watawa said they started the hike up to Camp 3 of Rinjani Mountain on July 26.

The group then hiked up to Pelawangan Camp on July 27 and made it to the summit at 2am on July 28.

He said they went back to Pelawangan Camp at 11am on the same day and then went on to Segara Anak Lake where they set up camp for the night.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake on July 29 morning, killed at least 16 people including a Malaysian woman who was also there for a hiking trip.

Photo showing the cracked surface of Mount Rinjani following an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia. — Picture courtesy of Watawa Nataf Zulkifli
Photo showing the cracked surface of Mount Rinjani following an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia. — Picture courtesy of Watawa Nataf Zulkifli

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