Lombok deaths reported to surge to 381, but official number still 164

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The number of fatalities in Lombok earthquake is increasing but different agencies come up with different figures.

Three different death tolls for the Lombok earthquake on Aug. 5 surfaced on Thursday, but the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) says the office is verifying them to avoid duplicate records.

West Nusa Tenggara Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi and National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) both announced the same number on Wednesday, which was 226, but the local command base of the Indonesian Military (TNI) cited 381 deaths on the same day. The BNPB, however, said the verified death toll stood at 164 as of Wednesday.

The BNPB says during an emergency situation such differences in number are common; however, the official number should be from the BNPB and its West Nusa Tenggara Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said all the numbers could be correct since it was based on on-the-field observations.

“Death casualty data is the most sensitive information and the thing that is sought after by the media and the public. So, which one is correct? Each number can be right because it was based on data on the field,” Sutopo said through a written statement on Wednesday night.

Sutopo said data from the BNPB or the BPBD would have been announced later because the BNPB has to verify the data first before issuing it to the public. This data, Sutopo said, will be the official data and verification is important as the basis for disbursing public money for aid.

To overcome the issue of differing data, Sutopo said, every related institution has to cooperate to match the fatalities data to avoid duplicate records.

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