Lombok quake: ‘I knew we were in trouble’
I DON'T remember the first few minutes after the quake hit. The tremor I can't forget.
We had just had dinner on the beach and watched the sunset. A group of eight friends from Australia, Sweden and the UK, including two kids.
It was majestic. We were standing on the sand on the island of Gili Trawangan, off Lombok, when the earth moved just after 7.30pm on Sunday night.
The shaking lasted 30 seconds. The power flickered out.
It is hard to explain how many thoughts I had in that half a minute of movement.
Too many to list.
We walked quickly back to our accommodation and the reality of what we were facing really hit us.
Entire walls had fallen down and power lines dangled across the roads.
It was dark. There was chatter of tsunami warnings, but we naively assumed we'd be safe once we reached our villa, about 1km inland.
In fact it wasn't naivety, but survival. We were just focused on the next step and nothing more.
At our once-luxurious villa, staff gave us head torches, water bottles and a map instructing us to go to the highest point of this tiny island - which covers only 15 square kilometres in total.
We knew we might be in trouble.
We walked in the dark, stopping only as the aftershocks hit, winding our way towards the hill.
The aftershocks didn't stop. The collective groans from people where we were heading were like the sounds coming from a football stadium in the final minutes of a game.
We estimated that about 3000 people had already made it to the hill when we arrived about 9pm.
I will never forget the sight of thousands of Indonesians and tourists sitting in the dark, on a hill 70m above sea level, wearing life jackets as the locals called out to Allah every time there was a tremor.
And there were plenty. By 11pm the tsunami threat had passed but the danger had not.
We walked back to our villa holding hands and dodging fallen slabs of concrete.
The damage to our villa convinced us to sleep outside.
Six adults and two kids under the stars - we even managed to convince the two youngest members of our group that it was all for fun.
But we know that at least three people died on that hill last night. Many more across the island.
On Monday morning staff came with supplies, despite our pleas that they first take care of their families.
Tourism is the lifeblood of the island and they know this will hurt.
As I helped one woman pick up broken tiles, she told me her 11-year-old nephew had died the night before.
Crushed by a wall. Another woman, who brought us fresh fruit, told me she was unable to contact her father on the nearby devastated island of Lombok.
We are safe. We have supplies. It's dry and warm.
Slowly, the entire island is being evacuated, including hundreds of Australians.
We know we have homes to go to. Even if we don't leave the island until Tuesday, safety is a flight away.
For the locals, this is their reality.
Annika Smethurst is The Sunday Telegraph's National Political Editor