After last night's quake killed at least 400 people, with the death toll set to climb well beyond that, being hit by another earthquake was a cruel blow. The second quake’s epicenter was around 200 kilometers south of the first and registered 7.0 on the Richter scale. Despite experts declaring the short time between the earthquake in the South Pacific’s Samoa region and the quake (s) in Sumatra a coincidence, emotionally it’s all a bit eerie.

Tracks has two staff members in the Padang / Mentawai Island region and up until 30 minutes ago had had no contact with them since the first quake. This was of great concern to us and we’re stoked to inform you they’re at sea safe and sound. We received an email [only possible in short spurts from certain areas of the Islands] from their captain informing us their communication drop out was due to rough seas and a broken satellite phone.

Other stories of near misses and pure luck have since been channeling through Tracks HQ. Former Tracks editor and now Surf Aid communication director Kirk Wilcox reported friend and Surf Aid worker Dr David Lange, had a lucky escape from the Hotel Amberchang, "…large chunks of glass and brick walls in the hotel came down all around me," Dr Lange wrote in an email to Kirk. "I can't imagine how I got out. It was like the floor was falling away as I ran over it.” In another email he later reflected on just how lucky he’d been. "I just can't believe I'm alive, the people right behind me [in the hotel] didn't make it out," he wrote. "People are trapped and screaming for help but they are below huge slabs that will take heavy equipment [to move] and there is none. In more bad news he added, “one hospital [Salasi Hospital] is completely ruined and non-functional, one other private hospital is damaged but functioning out of tents."

The collapse of the Amberchang Hotel is a great concern for those with friends in the area as it is a hotel used by traveling surfers. Another compelling story was that of Matt Cruden [Captain of the Managalui and operator of the Latitude zero resort]. Matt was working at a friends house when the first quake hit and managed to survive that to only then face the task of getting to his children who were with friends over 15 kilometers away. With no transport and bridges down Matt had to run the hard slog on foot. Which he did. Matt’s wife, who's in Australia. told our editor Luke Kennedy. "that of the Australian families she knows of living in Padang and linked to the surfing industry, all seem to be okay." It's very early days in the attempt to recover from these events and unfortunately it’s sure to get worse.

NOTE: Tracks is also monitoring the earthquake and tsunami in Samoa and we’ll be posting a report from of one of our chief writers Kirk Owers tomorrow.

SURF AID: http://www.surfaidinternational.org