I was cardless and clueless for a moment but things worked out. A fax provided the right number to call for cash transfer confirmation. I got my money and could breathe a lot easier.
A recap: ten minutes after the ATM confiscation I had my card canceled and a new one ordered. Twenty hours later I was able to pick up emergency cash at the local post office and my immediate concerns for the duration of this week-long trip were over. Rapid assistance, indeed.
I learned some lessons from this cardless adventure:
1. No matter how careful you are, you can lose your card due to machine failure
2. Check the fine print for your card, find out if there is an emergency cash option and whether this option is accessible 7x24. Will the card issuer answer the phone when you call?
3. Always carry a phone and make sure you know the right number to call when you lose a card
4. In case you lose your card at the worst possible moment (probably before checking into your hotel upon arrival) bring sufficient cash to last until assistance can be expected or bring a second card
5. Obtaining emergency cash required long overseas phone-calls as well as associated service fees, not to mention the trouble of finding and visiting a post-office at a time when I had other plans. None of this would have been necessary if I had brought a second card.