PETALING JAYA: Malaysian holiday-makers are shunning Lombok and Bali after the popular tropical islands were hit by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake on Sunday, just a week after the first quake on July 29.
Mohamad Suhaib, 26, was supposed to leave for Lombok at 4.30pm yesterday with his family, but chose to postpone the trip.
“I contacted the Malaysian Embassy in Lombok in the morning, and they told me the situation isn’t safe for travel up until Saturday.
“AirAsia gave me the option to delay my flight to any day in the first 14 days after the original date of departure. So I’ll most likely be flying around that period,” he said.
Dr Hanisah Mustapa had plans to climb up Mount Rinjani with five friends, but after the first earthquake two days before their trip, she felt uneasy about going.
The 29-year-old doctor discussed the matter with her friends and they decided to cancel the trip.
“I was afraid of possible aftershocks. We didn’t feel safe as to where and how severe the aftershocks might be. Why risk our safety?” Dr Hanisah said.
Meanwhile, boutique owner Ridzal Mann, 34, is thanking his lucky stars that last-minute work commitments forced him to cancel his Bali trip.
“We planned the trip for a year and were supposed to leave three days ago. But a day before the flight, I decided not to go as I had some staffing problems.
“Since my friends also work with me, they couldn’t go either,” he said.
Ridzal was disappointed when they had to “burn” their non-refundable tickets.
“We were heavily let down but on Sunday, when I read the news about the earthquake, I felt that God has a greater plan for me,” he said.
Meanwhile, AirAsia Group Bhd executive chairman and AirAsia X Co-Group chief executive officer Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said the airline would deploy an empty aircraft for 180 passengers to help those in Lombok who wish to return home earlier.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang urged Malaysians to delay their trip to Lombok to avoid putting themselves in danger.
“If there are any Malaysians flying to Lombok, it is advisable for them to contact the respective airline company as well as the travel agent in Indonesia to delay the flight to another time,” he said.
The magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck off north Lombok on Sunday evening was also felt around Sumbawa, Bali and east Java.
The death toll has reportedly exceeded 90 while hundreds more are injured.
On July 29, a magnitude-6.4 quake shook West Nusa Tenggara and Lombok, killing 17 people, including 30-year-old Malaysian Siti Nur Ismawida Ismail.
The earthquake also injured hundreds while more than 5,000 homes were reportedly destroyed.
Embassy: All Malaysians in Lombok safe and sound
2,000 Lombok tourists evacuated