October 7, 2009 / 8:08 AM / 11 years ago

Indonesia quake survivor says saved by a coffee

PADANG, Indonesia (Reuters) - An Indonesian earthquake survivor described Wednesday how buying a coffee during a hotel training course he was attending almost certainly saved his life.

Ghazali, 28, had been taking part in a training program with 40 people held by insurance firm Prudential at the historic Dutch-era Ambacang hotel when the quake hit the coastal city of Padang on September 30.

The trainee insurance agent, who is now staying with relatives, said he briefly left the hotel to buy a coffee in a cafe 300 meters across the street because drinks in the hotel were too pricey for him.

“I sat down and the hotel collapsed,” he said, adding that he had been too shocked since to tell authorities he was safe.

“It is still a traumatic experience and I just haven’t gotten around to it,” he explained.

He added that as far as he was aware only one other person from the Prudential training course had survived.

Asked about how he felt about the earthquake and his escape, the university student said: “This is merely something that god has decided upon.”

Rescue teams have been trying to extract more bodies at the Ambacang and one official said he believed there were about 80 left, some in the ruins of the pool but most in the lobby.

There was a brief moment of hope Tuesday when workers thought they had heard a woman crying for help under the rubble of the collapsed Ambacang. But an Australian rescue team later turned up nothing.

Indonesia’s official toll from the quake is 704 dead and 295 missing, but the health minister said it could reach 3,000.

Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Alex Richardson

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