30 Sep 2009

Pacific quake and tsunami kill at least 19 - warning lifted

12:05 pm on 30 September 2009

Reports from American Samoa say this morning's quake and tsunami have caused 14 deaths and left many injured.

A radio reporter says five waves came ashore after the 8.0 quake this morning.

In neighbouring Samoa five people are confirmed to have been killed, but the death toll is expected to rise..

The tsunami alert declared for the Pacific in Hawaii has been lifted.

However, a warning is still in force in French Polynesia's Marquesas islands where a total of five main waves are expected.

The low-lying islands of Tuvalu also remain on alert for a possible tsunami.

A spokesperson for the Meteorological Office Hilia Vavae says the southern island of Niulakita has reported changes in the sea, with more waves but no swell.

Hilia Vavae says nothing unusual has been seen on the main island and the earthquake was not felt there.

"Our southern islands have actually seen changes in the sea state. Running to somewhere is not practical for us, we are all low lying and we don't have anywhere to shelter."

A resident of a Samoan coastal village says her home has been destroyed by the 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.

Reports from American Samoa there has been looting in Pago Pago, but police have moved in.

When the 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.

In the Cook Islands, the authorties say the tsunami appears to have passed without any effect on Rarotonga.

The Police Commissioner Maara Tetava says they will keep an eye on the tsunami all day despite making assurances that the danger has passed

Rarotonga is currently hosting the Pacific mini games with more than 1,500 athletes from 21 countries taking part.

Commissioner Tetava says the games will continue but they will continue to monitor the tsunami.

Schools in Tonga have been closed, but no effects have so far been reported.

New Zealand says it stands ready to assist Samoa and the wider Pacific region following the earthquake.

Australia says some of its nationals in Samoa have been injured.

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

The 8.0 quake was followed by several aftershocks.