30 Sep 2009

Tsunami causes deaths in American Samoa and Samoa

10:26 am on 30 September 2009

Five people in Samoa are confirmed to have been killed by a tsunami following this morning's 8.3 earthquake.

In neighbouring American Samoa, the tsunami has caused some deaths, but there is no word of how many died.

In Samoa, there were earlier reports that at least three children had died.

Russell Hunter, a journalist with the Samoa Observer, says he has been told of deaths.

"There doesn't seem to be any damage around the capital although we are told that tehre have been deaths an the other side of the island as a result of the following tsunami, so far we are told three children on the other side of the island."

Journalist Russell Hunter.

A resident of a Samoan coastal village says her home has already been destroyed by a Tsunami that followed the quake.

Theresa Falele Dussey has been evacuted to Mount Vaea in the Samoan capital of Apia.

Our house has already been taken by the tsunami and some of the houses and cars next to our village have already been taken by the tsunami as well. People are just thankful that it's just the houses and the cars but not themselves, because they're already gone away from the coastal areas.

A reporter, Jonah Tui Le Tufuga in Apia, says he is starting to hear about damaged houses and villages being wiped out.

We also received an early report island that the entire Manono village on Manono island has been totally gone under water early on this morning but luckily most of the residents made it up to higher ground before the actual tsunami hit.

The West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center says the tsunami had been observed at Apia, Samoa, and at Pago Pago, in American Samoa.

The waves at Pago Pago were 5.1 feet or1.57 metres above normal sea level.

The Center earlier said a tsunami warning had been issued for American Samoa, and other Pacific countries including Samoa, New Zealand, Niue, Wallis-Futuna, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Kermadec Islands, Fiji, Kermadec Islands, French Polynesia, Howland-Baker, Jarvis Island, and Palmyra Island.

There is a red alert in French Polynesia as a tsunami is expected to hit shortly.

A two-metre wave is expected to hit the Marquesas islands where people are advised to seek ground at least ten metres above sea level.

A 90 centimetre wave is forecast for the Society island and the Tuamotus.

On the island of Nukunono in Tokelau, preparations are under way in case any big waves arrive after this morning's earthquake.

The acting faipule or mayor of Nukunono, Mika Perez, says the men are bringing boats to shore and moving families inland.

He says any waves might still be on their way:

I believe it should take about four hours before we can feel something here in Tokelau. I can see that the tide is receding which is good. When high tide comes at noon it might be a different story.

Mika Perez from Nukunono in Tokelau.

When a tsunami warning was issued at Niue, ten yachts left their moorings and headed to Tonga.

The Reef Shipping Company cargo ship MV Southern Tiare that was unloading in the roadstead at Alofi headed to sea.

A tsunami watch is in effect for Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Johnston Island, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Wake Island, Pitcairn and Midway Island

The epicenter of the quake was located 190 km southwest of American Samoa.