Earthquake Alert

Right now, the topic on everyone’s mind in Bali seems to be the recent and continuing earthquakes that are hitting Lombok and being felt here in Bali. No, they haven’t ‘hit’ Bali yet, although we have felt some strong tremors over the past few weeks. With the Pacific plate under Indonesia moving, and dispersing energy outwards, mostly westwards, aftershocks are likely to continue for a while.

A good place to start for more information about what’s actually happening under our feet (or under the waves) is Larry Ferlazzo’s education blog: Ferlazzo is an award-winning high school teacher who writes a popular education blog, and has written for the New York Times and the Huffington Post. In his post from 2011, Ferazzo lists a range of online sources for learning more about how and why earthquakes happen. He has a more recent post, from 2010, where he has a curated list of what he considers to be the best online sites for learning about natural disasters:

As far as social media goes, here are some good sites and apps that anyone in Bali should be following for news, updates, to help financially – if you can – or just for general support and information, even if just to send messages to people in a difficult time.

The Lombok Earthquake Relief site is a good source of the latest information about what’s happening on the ground in Lombok (hardest hit by the recent quakes), which agencies are assisting with relief efforts and how you can donate or assist them. You can post information about any events or fundraisers being held, offer your time or skills and just stay up to date on relief efforts or which regions have been affected. The site also maintains a Google map, and anyone in need in Lombok who sends a message or posts on the page, has their position added to the map. This will make it easier for relief workers – and government agencies – to find people who need tarps, water, food or other basic items, or who have not yet had any aid reach them. You can also find links to sites for donating to Lombok relief, such as Kopernik or Project Karma, and others. Individual people wanting to help relief efforts are also exchanging information about areas in need, supplies needed and the best places to source items in Bali or Lombok.

A good source for real-time seismic data is Jackie Pomeroy’s Mount Agung Daily Report: ( You can also search Facebook, using the term ‘Mount Agung Daily Report’ to find it. Jackie’s page was originally set up to track activity from Mount Agung and is now also being used to track tectonic activity from Lombok and other parts of Indonesia. She aggregates information on the mountain’s seismic activity, together with Google maps showing earthquake sites. Jackie uses official information, like that released by BMKG, the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, so you know her data is reliable and up-to-date.

Finally, there are some good apps out there for getting information – and reporting — about quakes and tremors just after they happen. I’m currently using CSEM/EMSC’s Last Quake (available on the app store). This app not only relays information about earthquakes very quickly, minutes after they occur, but it has some great crowd-sourced features, including one called ‘I Felt an Earthquake!’ where you can click on pictograms describing what you felt – so no language barrier to use – and then send a detailed message, together with your GPS coordinates. All messages are collated to gather information about who felt the quake and where they are. The app also contains safety information – again in picture form – about what to do during and after a quake. You can adjust the app setting to show all global activity, or just those tremors in your region or immediate area. I really like this app because it is updated quickly, faster than other quake apps I’ve used. Also, the feedback feature is easy and quick to use.

Other quake apps include: My Earthquake (Alerts & Feed), Earthquake, QuakeFeed (Earthquake Alerts), Earthquake+ (Alert, Map & Info). All these apps are available on the App Store, for both iOS and Android.

Remember in these turbulent times, as the earth is literally moving under our feet, you don’t just want to stay in touch with friend and family on social media, or connect with our local Bali community as soon as you feel a tremor. You also need to have a solid, thought-out, hopefully rehearsed, earthquake safety or evacuation plan. The current recommendation on earthquake safety if you are inside is DROP, COVER, HOLD. That means, DROP to the ground, make your way safely to something solid and heavy that can COVER you from flying or falling objects, and then HOLD on to until the shaking stops. Don’t stand in a doorway. That’s an old and proven-to-be-unsafe method. After the shaking stops, safely evacuate a building. If you’re outside when a quake strikes, get to a clear, open space, away from power lines or buildings.

I hear a lot of comments that the DROP, COVER, HOLD practice only works in developed countries that adhere to stronger building codes. However, the current global recommendation is that DROP, COVER, HOLD should be followed everywhere, if you are inside a building. Most people are killed or injured by falling debris, including roof tiles, and collapsing staircases. A special word about stairs – these structures, whether made from wood, concrete or iron, vibrate at a different frequency than the building around them. This makes them inherently unstable and unsafe. Even in New Zealand, numerous people died when they used stairs and the stairs collapsed. If you feel you must evacuate for safety reasons, do so carefully, watching out for any dangers in your immediate environment and move quickly, but don’t run.

For more safety information about earthquakes readiness, check out these sites:

The US Geological Survey: , National Geographic: or the Red Cross list of safety and preparedness tips:

Remember, in the event of a quake, be prepared, have a plan, don’t panic and stay safe. Then — and only then — check your earthquake app and notify your friends on social media that you’re fine.



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