Real Life

Aussie couple's earthquake terror

Amid the horror of the Sumatra earthquake, Anastacia Howe and Matt Hannon's reunion is a rare tale of hope – but, as they tell Jonica Bray, they are determined theirs won't be the last.
Separated for two torturous days in the wake of the Sumatra earthquake, it is little wonder Anastacia Howe and Matt Hannon are now loath to leave each other's side.
That the Aussie couple insists on staying in the devastated Indonesian province to help locals rebuild their shattered lives speaks of an even greater bond.
"We have a chance to give back to a community we have called home for a long time," explains Anastacia, who's been living in the region for almost a year. "People here have lost everything – we want to do whatever we can."
That task is not taken lightly. Since her world came crashing down around her in a tangle of twisted steel and broken concrete in the city of Padang little more than a week ago, Anastacia has refused to sleep indoors, so terrified is she that another earthquake will strike at any moment.
Indeed, midway through our interview in one of the city's few surviving restaurants, she leaps for the door when a truck slowly rumbles by. Taking a deep breath, she apologises for her reaction, simply offering, "I will never forget that noise."
But her quick reflexes are understandable – last time, they saved her life. Anastacia was in the lobby of The Ambacang Hotel, talking to her mother on the internet, when the 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck at 5.15pm local time on September 30. She barely escaped with her life as the four-storey building came crumbling down.
"I heard it collapse right behind me," she tellsWoman's Day. "There was dust and destruction everywhere, with people running from every direction, wobbling all over the road and falling from bikes as the ground continued to shake..."

read more from