14 Oct 2009

Schoolgirl honoured for tsunami beach warning

9:33 pm on 14 October 2009

A schoolgirl who ran along a Samoan beach warning people that a devastating tsunami was about to hit has been honoured for her bravery.

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake triggered huge waves that hit Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga on 29 September, wiping out villages and resorts and killing at least 184 people.

Ten-year old Abby Wutzler, of Wellington, says she saw a "wall of water" rising that day and knew to scream out while running along the beach at Lalomanu on Samoa's south coast, where she was holidaying with her family.

At Karori West Normal School on Wednesday, Abby recounted how she urged people to hurry to higher ground and spoke of her fear for the lives of her father and brother, who were later found safe.

Civil Defence director John Hamilton presented her with a certificate of commendation and told the school she had set a "brilliant example" for others.

NZ ship delivers aid to Tongan island

New Zealand naval ship the Canterbury has delivered aid to a Tongan island hit by the tsunami.

The supplies, donated by the Tongan community in New Zealand, were shipped to residents of Niuatoputapu Island where nine people died.

The ship berthed in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa on Tuesday to collect aid workers and load up with vehicles and more supplies.

Commanding officer Jim Gilmour says until now, only small ships have landed in the disaster zone, limiting the amount of reconstruction equipment and materials that could be brought in.

Mr Gilmour says the Canterbury is big enough to transfer heavy vehicles ashore, enabling the clean-up to begin.