Two more earthquakes measuring 6.6 and 5.0 on the Richter scale shook Southern Sumatra on Thursday morning, causing further destruction and delaying the recovery process in Padang. While it's unclear whether more deaths have resulted from the latest earthquakes, according to reports by the Associated Press, more than 777 people have died and over 500 buildings in Padang have collapsed from Wednesday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake.
According to SURFER Photographer and Bali resident Jason Childs the damage is far worse than originally expected. "I’ve been trying to call captains and crew in Padang all day but the phone system is down," said Childs in an email. "By all accounts all the boats and camps in the island chain are fine. But it’s the local crew's families that we don’t have any info about. I received info from the guys on the Pelagic the ship that they are all good, but still worried about the families of the local crew."
A release sent by SurfAid International claimed that SurfAid's Program Director Peter Lange narrowly escaped death after evacuating the Ambacang Hotel, which collapsed moments after his escape, killing many of those inside and in the surrounding area. Said Lange, "People are trapped and screaming for help but they are below huge slabs which will take heavy equipment to move. I saw dozens of the biggest buildings collapsed in town, most of the damage is concentrated in the commercial centre market, which was fully packed."
Padang's hospital has also been destroyed, and SurfAid Internationl has initiated an emergency response to deliver aid and urges others to join in any way possible by visiting SurfAidInternational.org.
In an email sent at 1:00 AM Thursday morning, Surf Aid International’s founder Dr. Dave Jenkins informed us that the SurfAid office in Padang had not suffered major damages. "Our Emergency Preparedness Field Manager, who is in Nias, says there are no reports of damage in Nias or a Tsunami," wrote Jenkins. "Reports from Sipora and Pagai in the Mentawai are also that there is no damage (I have heard no report yet from Siberut)."
Surfers have long considered this fragile slice of earth a treasure; as such, SurfAid's appeal for help should be greeted by great enthusiasm from the international surf community.
"It’s just another terribly sad day for Indonesia," said Childs. "It’s just one thing after another living in the 'Ring of Fire.'"