The number of confirmed deaths from an earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday has risen to 259 and would rise as more victims are found in the rubble, the disaster mitigation agency said.

A strong aftershock struck the island this morning, causing panic.

The 5.9-magnitude quake struck at a shallow depth in the northwest of the island, the US Geological Survey said.

Authorities on the island have urgently appealed for medicine, food and clean water for some 156,000 people who have been displaced by the disaster.

Many frightened villagers are staying under tents or tarpaulins dotted along roads or in parched rice fields.

Makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

Evacuees in some encampments say they are running out of food, while others are suffering psychological trauma after the powerful quake.

It struck just one week after another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

Tens of thousands of homes, businesses and mosques were levelled by the quake, which struck on Sunday as evening prayers were being said across the island.

Local authorities, international relief groups and the central government have begun organising aid, but shattered roads have slowed efforts to reach survivors in the mountainous north of Lombok, which bore the brunt of the quake.


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"We are still waiting for assessments from some of the more remote areas in the north of the island, but it is already clear that Sunday's earthquake was exceptionally destructive," said Christopher Rassi, the head of a Red Cross assessment team on Lombok.

He estimated 75% of houses are damaged in some villages in east and north Lombok.

The national disaster agency said there are still some evacuees that have not yet received aid, especially in the north and west of the island.