Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Tsunami in Pacific islands

September 30, 2009

Tsunami in Pacific islands

A tsunami triggered by a strong quake in the South Pacific has killed at least 34 people in Samoa, say reports.Samoa’s delegate to the US Congress, Eni Faleomavaega, told AFP thousands of people had been left homeless. Dr Lemalu Fiu, at a hospital in the Samoan capital, Apia, said the number of casualties was expected to rise as people arrived from coastal areas. An 8.3-magnitude quake struck at 1748 GMT, generating 15ft (4.5m) waves in some areas of Samoa and American Samoa.

The Samoa islands comprise two separate entities – the nation of Samoa and American Samoa, a US territory – with a total population of about 250,000 people. A tsunami warning was issued, but it has now been cancelled. President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in American Samoa, enabling federal funding to made available to help victims.

Floating cars

Some of the areas there are only a few feet above sea level, so you can imagine the devastation,” said Mr Faleomavaega. It caused severe damage to property, there are cars floating everywhere.” Mase Akapo, a National Weather Service meteorologist in American Samoa, told the AP news agency that at least 14 people had been killed in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila. He said another 20 people had died Samoa Talutala Mauala, Secretary General of the Red Cross in Samoa, said she was travelling to the country’s south coast, where injuries had also been reported.

“We won’t know the full extent of the damage until we get there and see for ourselves,” she said. Ms Mauala said it could take many months for people to rebuild their homes.

An Associated Press reporter said he had seen “bodies everywhere” in the main hospital in Lalomanu, on Samoa‘s main island of Upolu, including at least one child. South Korea‘s Yonhap news agency has reported that three South Koreans were among the dead and one is still missing.

Beaches gone

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) said the quake struck at a depth of 33km (20 miles) some 190km (120 miles) from Apia. Waves of 5.1ft (1.57m) hit Apia and Pago Pago in American Samoa.

Radio New Zealand quoted Samoan residents as saying that villages were inundated and homes and cars swept away. Graeme Ansell, a New Zealander near Apia, told the radio station the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale had been “wiped out”.

There’s not a building standing. We’ve all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need around here,” he said. Samoalive News said local radio stations had been receiving reports of high sea swells hitting coastal areas on the eastern and southern side of Upolu island

School has been called off for the day with tsunami warnings calling for people to head to higher grounds,” the website said. Witnesses have reported scenes of destruction.

It’s horrible… The village is gone and my once beautiful beach front villa has now been submerged in water,” Josh Nayangu told the BBC after fleeing the area on a small fishing boat with his wife and son. Ula Osasa-Mano, who was visiting family on the island, told the BBC the water along the Apia seawall was turbulent. The water was kind of swirling like a spa pool outwards [towards] the rim of the lagoon and in a few seconds the water sunk,” Ula Osasa-Mano said.

General alert

The PTWC – a branch of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – issued a general alert for the South Pacific region.

Stuart Weinstein, the deputy director of the PTWC, told the BBC that the agency was monitoring the situation, but said the wave was expected to be “much smaller” than the 2004 Asian tsunami which killed about 230,000 people in 11 countries. Mr Weinstein said Tuesday’s quake had only had 3% of the energy generated by the 2004 quake.