Fifty NZ surfers could be in quake-hit area of Indonesia

About 50 New Zealand surfers could have been in the Indonesian area struck by a large earthquake which triggered a tsunami early this morning, a humanitarian group says.

At least nine Australians have been reported missing since the 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Kepulauan Mentawai, off the western coast of Sumatra Island.

SurfAid New Zealand chairman Phil Dreifuss estimated there would be about 50 New Zealand surfers in the affected area.

However, he told NZPA he was confident New Zealand surfers would be safe as the tsunami, about two to three metres, was the size of a normal swell.

"I would suspect that the surfers up there have had no issues at all. A two to three metre wave - they'd be celebrating probably (and) waiting for the next one," he said.

However, he was very concerned about the welfare of locals in the area.

SurfAid's founder Dave Jenkins, in Indonesia, said it had organised a rapid-response team which included four New Zealanders.

He held grave fears for missing surfers who had been on two charter boats that collided following the tsunami.

He believed most of the surfers were Australian but couldn't rule out the possibility of any New Zealanders also being on the boats.

He encouraged people to go to the SurfAid website to make a donation to help the relief effort.

"We are very concerned, very worried and doing everything we can and we need help," he told NZPA.

Meanwhile, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said 536 New Zealanders were registered as being in Indonesia.

However, that figure might be higher due to New Zealanders who chose not to register with the ministry.

The ministry had received no reports of missing or injured New Zealanders, she said.

- NZPA

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