Wednesday, 30 September 2009
In the Home Neighbourhood: Earthquake and tsunami in Samoa
The tsunami reached the East Coast of New Zealand but it had lost most of its power and caused no damage.
Eye witness reports from Samoa are here.
Sources: New Zealand Herald/Photo: AP
Dozens have been killed after a powerful earthquake struck near the Samoa Islands, sparking a tsunami which threatened New Zealand.
The Ministry of Civil Defence said the quake, measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale struck at 06.48am New Zealand time.
At least two New Zealanders are reported to have been injured and one killed in Samoa.
One of the runways at Pago Pago International Airport is being cleared of debris for emergency use, says a US Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.
The FAA is deploying teams to American Samoa for support and damage evaluation.
Japan's Meteorological Agency also issued a tsunami warning all along that country's eastern coast.
There are unconfirmed reports that 40 people from the Samoan village of Lalomanu (the Samoan PM's home village) on the south-eastern end of the island of Upolu have been killed.
A New Zealand man called Radio Samoa in Auckland saying he had been in touch with his family in Lalomanu.
Family members said up to 40 people had died following the magnitude 8.3 earthquake and tsunami which hit the island in the early hours of this morning.
Associated Press reporter Keen Elsa said three or four villages on the popular tourist coast near the southern town of Lalomanu on Samoa's main island of Upolu had been "wiped out" by the waves that roared ashore early today.
Keni said he had visited the town's main hospital where "there are bodies everywhere," including at least one child.
The Samoan government has not yet confirmed fatalities.
Officials in neighbouring American Samoa say at least 14 people have been killed there.
Kisa Kupa - a New Zealand citizen who now lives in Samoa - says sirens are still ringing loudly on the main island of Upolu, warning people to head inland or to higher ground.
"My kids were terrified this morning - the house was shaking like anything and objects dropping and smashing on the floor."
She said there were at least three reported deaths - all children - from the village of Poutasi.
"Children have died and this is very sad because there was no warning when it hit. People were only just getting up."