Pacific Scoop

Huge tsunami sweeps many to their death in American Samoa and Samoa

Cook Islanders check out the tsunami backwash in Avarua harbour - but the alert there is now over. Photo: CINews

Boats put to sea from Avatiu harbour in the Cook Islands after the tsunami warning today. The warning was later cancelled. Photo: CINews

By Josephine Latu of Pacific Media Watch

Includes updated video at bottom of this report.

A huge tsunami struck American Samoa and Samoa early day, causing many deaths in both Pacific island groups.

Initial reports from Sky News put the death toll in American Samoa at 14, while upgraded reports estimate the death toll in Western Samoa at over 100.

The tsunami was generated by a powerful subsea quake measuring 8.3 in magnitude which struck at 6.48am about 190km southwest of American Samoa and 200km from Samoa, according to the US Geological Service.

The Samoan earthquake epicentre. Graphic: Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre

The Samoan earthquake epicentre. Graphic: Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre

An aftershock quake measuring 5.6-magnitude happened 20 minutes later.
Entire coastal villages have reportedly been “wiped out”, including the village of Manono in Samoa, a local journalist told Radio New Zealand.

Samoa resident Theresa Falele Dussey said houses and cars were swept away by the huge waves, measuring 0.7m to 1.57m above sea level, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

Residents have fled inland amid power outages and jammed phone lines, while students reportedly ransacked a petrol station and convenience store in Pago Pago.

Samoa Observer editorial executive Russell Hunter said law enforcement officers had visited bus stops, urging people not to board buses but to get to higher ground.

The alert from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

An alert from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

“As I was driving to work about an hour and a half ago the roads were full of people both on foot or whatever transport they could get making their way to open, higher ground where they would be safer and have less chance of being hit by falling debris,” he told ABC radio.

A superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, Mike Reynolds, told a Yellowstone dispatch operator in the US that four tsunami waves, each up to 5m high, reached 0.8 km to 2.5km inland on island of Tutuila, where Pago Pago is situated.

The National Park of American Samoa’s visitor centres have been completely destroyed.

Tsunami warnings have been issued by the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center to surrounding South Pacific nations, including a red alert for Tahiti, which is also expected to be hit with a tsunami.

New Zealand’s tsunami warning has been downgraded to an alert.

Source: Pacific Media Watch

Media tracks deadly Samoan tsunami as it moves across Pacific
Samoan quake spawns killer tsunami

Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre

3News: Aid, temporary morgue headed to tsunami-hit Samoas
3News: Samoa tsunami: Full interview with Dr Esmey Fuala and Fuala Kitiona
3News: Tsunami claims life of Raglan mum, 160 NZers missing
3News: Samoa tsunami: Full interview with Isaia Tiatia, Lalomanu church minister
3News: Samoan tsunami death toll climbs to 82, hundreds missing
3News:Samoan tsunami leaves destruction in its wake (Extended Coverage)
3News:Nervous wait for NZ Samoan community
3News – Tsunami -Samoan villages wiped out
3News –Tsunami crisis – American Samoa resident talks of casualties
3News – Tsunami measuring 1.5m hits American Samoa


  1. Lealiiee Tufulasi Taleni, 30. September 2009, 16:09

    Faamaise atu isi o tatou atunuu pele Samoa i mafatiaga ma faanoanoaga ua oo i ai ona faalavelave faanatura ua aafia ai i lenei aso le aso 30 Setema 2009. Tatou mafuta ile Atua i tatalo e maua mai ai tali mo o tatou mafatiaga. E ui ina afatia la tatou faigamalaga i le aso, ae ia ao pea Samoa. Tatou loto tetele. Faamaise le Atua i aiga faavauvau, i nai matua ma fanau ua maliliu i lenei faalavelave ogaoga.

    Soifua ma ia manuia Samoa!

  2. Alisi Seigafo, 5. October 2009, 12:55

    Faamaise atu isi o tatou atunuu pele o Samoa aemaise Amerika Samoa ona o le maemaea o lenei faalavelave faalenatura sa aafia ai si o tatou atunuu pele.Tatou tau fai tatalo ia Ieova e maua mai ai faamafanafanaga aemaise le faamoemoe ua ia saunia o le toetu mai i le lumanai ma ia tatou loto tetele.Faamaise Ieova i nai aiga faavauvau ua maliliu matua,uo,uso,tuafafine,tuagane aemaise nai fanau pele ona o faiga saua a lenei tsunami.

    Soifua ma ia manuia si o tatou atunuu pele o Samoa!