THE rescue team had done everything it could to recover the body of a man killed instantly when a massive earthquake brought down his home on the Indonesian island of Lombok.

They used hacksaws to cut a square into concrete wall. They used crowbars and dogs and a power drill. But by Tuesday afternoon, with the unmistakable stench of rotting flesh in the air, they were sweating and at their wits' end.

The body of 60-year-old Abdul Malik, one of at least 105 people killed in Sunday's 6.9 magnitude quake, would have to stay under the rubble for a third day.

"It's taking far too long," said the victim's 50-year-old brother-in-law, who watched more than a dozen helmeted emergency workers in orange jumpsuits drill into a thick layer of concrete.

The tragic scene underscored the challenges facing Indonesia's government as it struggles to deal with its latest natural disaster.

The quake shattered homes and lives across the vast archipelago, displacing more than 84,000 people, according to disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

At least 4600 foreign and Indonesian tourists, including a large number of Australians, have also been evacuated from three smaller islands off Lombok's coast so far, Nugroho said.

With not enough boats to evacuate tourists quickly and too few planes to fly them out of Lombok, many visitors were forced to wait for hours or camp on beaches and on the floor of the international airport in Mataram.

The international charity Oxfam said drinking water was scarce because of a recent spell of extremely dry weather in Lombok. Food, medical supplies, tarps and clothes are also urgently needed.

By late Tuesday, the government appeared to be focused on finding bodies and, wherever possible, survivors.

Rescuers pulled a body from a pancaked pile of broken concrete and twisted reinforcing bar that once held together the multi-storey Jabal Nur Mosque, whose green dome had shattered and collapsed.

A village elder said a 6.4-magnitude quake that hit Lombok a week earlier had caused countless cracks in the mosque's walls.

That earthquake, on July 29, killed 17 people and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano.

By Tuesday evening, the search effort at the mosque ended after dogs failed to find more bodies and no other families reported missing loved ones there, said Anak Agung Alit Supartana, who heads the region's Search and Rescue Agency office. There had been reports that dozens of people were killed at the site.

Supartana said two people had been found alive, along with three bodies. But the rescuers and heavy equipment were "very much needed elsewhere".

Earlier on Tuesday, in a rare piece of good news, a woman was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed grocery store near the epicentre of the quake.