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3 killed in Sunday's strong quakes on Indonesia's Lombok Island

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- At least three people were killed in two strong earthquakes that struck the popular tourist island of Lombok, next to Bali, Indonesian government officials said Monday.

Two of the three died as a result of the magnitude 6.9 quake that occurred at 10:56 p.m. Sunday at a depth of about 20 kilometers, centered on the northeastern part of the island. The other victim perished when a magnitude 6.3 quake hit Lombok at 12:10 p.m. at a depth of 7.9 kilometers.

Efforts to assess the situation in East Lombok have met difficulty because communications with the area were cut by the quakes, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

At least 22 smaller quakes with magnitudes as high as 5.8 had occurred as of 1:25 a.m. Monday, the Jakarta-based Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said.

Both temblors were strongly felt on the island, as well as on Bali, sending people into a panic, according to Sutopo.

One of the two victims of the late Sunday quake was found in the island's East Lombok Regency, which is believed to be the area most affected by the quake, while the other was on nearby Sumbawa Besar Island, Sutopo said.

The 12:10 p.m. quake caused landslides on the slopes of Mt. Rinjani, a 3,726-meter active volcano on Lombok that is popular among international and local tourists.

The temblors came two weeks after a magnitude 6.9 quake struck Lombok's northwest, killing about 460 people. A week earlier, the island was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that killed 17 people.

Indonesia sits in one of the most active seismic regions in the world, the Pacific Ring of Fire -- an area in which a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

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