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Oct 1, 2009

Tsunami hits Samoa

Double devastation: Thousands missing in Indonesian earthquake hours after tsunami hits Samoa killing British boy, 2

By Mail Foreign Service

A two-year-old British child was presumed deadlast night, one of at least 140 victims of a devastating tsunami whichsmashed into the Pacific island of Samoa.

There were also concerns for several other Britons who failedto contact relatives after entire villages were flattened or washedinto the sea.

Hours after the tsunami hit, two thousand miles away an earthquake measuring 7.9 on theRichter scale rocked the western Indonesian island of Sumatra, killingat least 75.

No one spared: An aerial of Hihifo on the western side of Tonga after the first powerful earthquake sent tsunami waves sweeping through the Pacific

No one spared: An aerial of Hihifo on thewestern side of Tonga after the first powerful earthquake sent tsunamiwaves sweeping through the Pacific


An aerial view of the devastation in Falehau in Tonga after the first earthquake hurled tsunami waves through the Pacific

An aerial view of the devastation in Falehau in Tonga after the first earthquake hurled tsunami waves through the Pacific

The earthquake brought down buildings, including a hospital, and left thousandstrapped under rubble. Officials said the death toll was likely to rise.

The Indonesian quake took place on the same fault-line as the devastating Boxing Day tsunami which killed 230,000.

Thoughthe quakes were thousands of miles apart, both took place along thePacific 'Ring of Fire', a horseshoe-shaped area of seismic activityringing the Pacific Ocean basin.


A man pauses to survey the destruction in tsunami destroyed Maninoa Siumu on the southern coast of Western Samoa

A man pauses to survey the destruction in tsunami destroyed Maninoa Siumu on the southern coast of Western Samoa

The tsunami also struck American Samoa and Tonga.

n Samoa theBritish child was swept away from its parents when a tidal wave, whichreached a height of 35ft according to witnesses, was triggered by an8.3-magnitude underwater earthquake.

Bodies were carried out to sea or thrown into trees, cars were washed into the ocean and boats were thrown on to the land.


Tsunami


Tsunami


Indonesia Quake.jpg


The toddler's parents have been given refuge in the New ZealandHigh Commission.

Dr Stephen Rogers, the British Honorary Consul in thecapital, Apia, said he believed about 20 Britons were on the islandwhen the tsunami struck, and several had lost all their possessions.

'We've had calls from a number of Brits in different accommodationwho are claiming to be okay,' he said.

But he added: 'We've had callsfrom the UK about people we've got no information about.'

Five Britons in their 20s and 30s were yesterday found alive.

In Samoa many islanders and tourists said they did not receivewarnings in time.

A 21-year- old woman who only gave her name as Ngutusaid: 'Everyone was just walking around as normal after the earthquake,curious about what was going to happen.

'Then out of nowhere this bigwave, as tall as the sky, hit. Everyone just started running inlandtowards the hills, running for our lives.

'We've lost everything. Our whole village is gone. It's all sand and fish in what's left of the houses.'

Actress- turned- psychologist Pamela Stephenson, who was onSamoa filming a documentary about writer Robert Louis Stevenson, aformer resident of the island, said a friend of hers was killed.

Miss Stephenson, wife of comedian Billy Connolly, said: 'Sheand her husband were trying to run to their car.

'They were caught bythe waves. She was found on the beach later.'

The Queen yesterday senta message of condolence to the Samoan head of state.


A satellite image

A satellite image shows moments after a tsunami wave hit Pago Pago village on the island of American Samoa


Tsunami waves approach American Samoa's Tafuna International Airport in Pago Pago

Tsunami waves approach American Samoa's Tafuna International Airport in Pago Pago

Emergency services feared entirevillages in Samoa and American Samoa had been wiped out by the massive waves, which sent terrifiedresidents fleeing for higher ground.

Thedisaster was compounded when the second powerful earthquake rockedIndonesia, prompting a new tsunami warning for Indonesia, Malaysia,India and Thailand. The warning has since been lifted.

Thousandsof people are trapped under the rubble in Padang, a city of 900,000, asenior Indonesian health ministry official said.


A car has been tossed on its roof by the churning waters of the tsunami as it swept through Pago Pago, on American Samoa

A car has been tossed on its roof by the churning waters of the tsunami as it swept through Pago Pago, on American Samoa


Pago Pago, on American Samoa, lies in ruins after the tsunami tore its way through the islands

Pago Pago, on American Samoa, lies in ruins after the tsunami tore its way through the islands

Rustam Pakaya, the head of thehealth ministry's disaster centre, said via a telephone text messagethat a hospital in Padang in the area near the epicentre of the quakehad also collapsed.

'Jamil hospital collapsed and thousands of people are trapped in the rubble of buildings,' Pakaya said.

Aresident called Adi told Indonesia's Metro Television there wasdevastation around him. 'For now I can't see dead bodies, justcollapsed houses. Some half destroyed, others completely. People arestanding around too scared to go back inside. They fear a tsunami.

'No help has arrived yet. I can seesmall children standing around carrying blankets. Some people arelooking for relatives but all the lights have gone out completely.'


A boat from Malaloa Marina is seen on the edge of the main highway in the village of Fagatogo, in American Samoa, today. It was swept ashore by a tsunami that authorities fear left hundreds dead

A boat teeters on the edge of the main highway in American Samoa having been swept ashore by the tsunami


People search through the rubble following the powerful earthquake in Pago Pago village

People search through the rubble following the powerful earthquake in Pago Pago village

In Samoa, signs of devastation from the tsunami were everywhere,with a giant boat washed ashore lying on the edge of a highway andflood waters swallowing up cars and homes.

It struck about 120 miles (190 kilometres) from neighbouring American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people.

The waves reached as far as Japan, although Hawaii and Australia were spared any severe damage.


Anoth boat can be seen stranded among wreckage in the village of Si'umu in Western Samoa toda


Another boat can be seen stranded among wreckage in the village of Si'umu in Western Samoa today

Tsunami aftermath

A car is seen pushed up against a bridge after strong sea water from the tsunami filled a small stream in American Samoa

In Washington, President BarackObama declared a disaster for American Samoa. The Federal EmergencyManagement Agency said it was deploying teams to provide support andassess damage.

SamoanPrime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi looked shaken today on board aflight from Auckland, New Zealand, to the Samoan capital of Apia.

'So much has gone. So many people are gone,' he told reporters on board. 'I'm so shocked, so saddened by all the loss.'

Malielegaoi said his own village of Lepa was destroyed.

President Thomas Lapua, who lives in the Western Samoan capital ofApia, said: 'These are places that exist because people depend on thesea to fish - now the sea is threatening their lives. It may be sometime before we find out the full extent of this.'


tsunami


Graphic explains the devastating power of a tsunami wave


An earthquake event location map

An earthquake event location map shows the epicentre of the undersea quake

This graphic provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) how fast the tsunami travels after an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 rocked the island nation of Samoa

This graphic provided by the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration (NOAA) shows how fast the tsunami travels after an earthquakewith a magnitude of 8.0 rocked the island nation of Samoa


This map shows a projection of the wave energy resulting from the 8.3 magnitude earthquake which hit midway between Samoa and American Samoa early today.

This map shows a projection of the waveenergy resulting from the 8.3 magnitude earthquake which hit midwaybetween Samoa and American Samoa early today. This assessment allowedAustralia to be rated as having no threat from the quake. The red linesindicate the tectonic plates.

The quake hit at 6:48 am local time (17:48 GMT) midway between the two island groups.

At least one entire village inAmerican Samoa was reported to have been flattened by the tsunami,later reports said, but confirmation of the destruction was difficultbecause communications were cut to many areas.

A Samoan resident, Mr Keni Lesa was preparing to take his family to higher ground as the tsunami warning went out.

'We'vedone a lot of training for this, but it still a shock when it actuallyhappens and you hear the warnings going out on the radio.'

'There are a considerable number of people who've been swept out to sea and are unaccounted for,' New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Bill English said.


Shocked islanders stand around Pago Plaza in American Samoa as they examine the devastation firsthand

Shocked islanders stand around Pago Plaza in American Samoa as they examine the devastation first-hand

He said a New Zealand P3 Orion maritime surveillance plane would reach the region later today to search for survivors.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. JohnTitchen said a C-130 was being dispatched today to deliver aid toAmerican Samoa, assess damage and take the governor back home.

On Samoa, New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

'Itwas very quick. The whole village has been wiped out,' Ansell told NewZealand's National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia.'There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and oneof our party has a broken leg.'

Whilethe earthquake and tsunami were big, they were not on the same scale ofthe 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, said Brian Atwater of the U.S.Geological Survey in Seattle. That tsunami killed more than 230,000 ina dozen countries across Asia.

The 2004 quake was at least 10 times stronger than the measurements being reported for Tuesday's quake, Atwater said.


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