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Tsunami Strikes American Samoa After 8.3-Magnitude Quake
September 29, 2009
10:10 pm

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — DEVELOPING: A tsunami swept into Pago Pago, American Samoa, shortly after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.3 erupted in the area.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or structural damage Tuesday.

Fili Sagapolutele, who works at the Samoa News, says the water flowed inland about 100 yards before receding, leaving some cars stuck in the mud.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu issued a tsunami warning for American Samoa and other areas of the Pacific, including New Zealand. A tsunami watch was posted for other areas, including Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.

There are reports that some beaches in Hawaii are being closed as a precaution. Police are at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to offer protection and assistance in the event that a large wave forms.

American Samoa, a group of islands, is a U.S. territory located in the South Pacific, about 2,300 miles south of Hawaii. American Samoa is slightly larger than Washington, D.C., with a population of 65,628. The population of Pago Pago is approximately 11,000.

The last earthquake to hit the Pacific Rim region was in Indonesia in July 2006, when a nearly 8 magnitude earthquake set off a tsunami that claimed the lives of more than 200 people.


September 29, 2009
10:26 pm

Tsunami hits American Samoa

By FILI SAGAPOLUTELE – 23 minutes ago

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — A powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the South Pacific between Samoa and American Samoa around dawn Tuesday, sending terrified residents fleeing for higher ground as a tsunami swept ashore, flattening at least one village. There were no immediate reports of fatalities.

The temblor hit at 6:48 a.m. Tuesday (1748 GMT) midway between the two island groups. In Apia, families reported shaking that lasted for up to three minutes. The U.S. Geological Service said the quake struck 20 miles (35 kilometers) below the ocean floor, 120 miles (190 kilometers) from American Samoa and 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Samoa.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a general alert for the South Pacific region, from American Samoa to New Zealand. It said there were indications a tsunami wave could be "destructive" along some coastlines.

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

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "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 'round here."

A tsunami swept into Pago Pago, capital of American Samoa, shortly after the earthquake, sending sea water surging inland about 100 yards (meters) before receding, leaving some cars stuck in mud.

The staff of the port ran to higher ground, and police soon came by, telling residents to get inland.

In Fagatogo, water reached the waterfront town's meeting field and covered portions of the main highway, which also was plagued by rock slides.

In Samoa, the powerful quake jolted people awake.

"It was pretty strong; it was long and lasted at least two minutes," one resident told local radio.

"It's the strongest I have felt, and we ran outside. You could see all the trees and houses were shaking," he said.

Sulili Dusi told New Zealand's National Radio that "everything dropped on the floor and we thought the house was going to go down as well. Thank God, it didn't." Along with neighbors, they fled to high ground.

She said the tsunami hit the south side of the island, and some "cars have been taken." She did not elaborate, but added "we just thank God no life has been taken yet."

Another resident, Dean Phillips, said the southern coast of Upolu island had been struck by the tsunami.

"The police are sending everybody up to high ground," he said.

Local media said they had reports of some landslides in the Solosolo region of the main Samoan island of Upolu and damage to plantations in the countryside outside Apia.

There were no immediate reports of injury or serious damage from local emergency services, but people reported cracks in some homes and items tossed from shelves.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu issued a tsunami warning for numerous islands in the Pacific, including the Samoas, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Palmyra Island.

The center posted a tsunami watch for Hawaii, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Solomon Island, Johnston Island, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Wake Island, Midway Island and Pitcairn.

In New Zealand, a tsunami alert was issued by national Civil Defense, and the nation's national emergency center was activated.

Associated Press writer Keni Lesi contributed to this report from Apia, Samoa.

September 29, 2009
10:29 pm

Deaths have been reported after a tsunami hit the island of American Samoa following an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean.The quake measured 8.0 on the Richter scale.

Stuart Weinstein from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre told Sky News a two-metre high wave had struck the capital Pago Pago.

He also said the size of it was "potentially destructive".

The centre in Honolulu, Hawaii, issued a tsunami warning for American Samoa and other areas of the Pacific, including New Zealand.

A tsunami watch was posted elsewhere, including Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.

The quake happened at 6:48am (local time) halfway between Samoa and American Samoa.

In the Samoan capital Apia, families fled their homes for higher ground.

There were reports of severe shaking that lasted for up to three minutes.

New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale had been levelled.

The epicenter of the quake was located 120 miles southwest of American Samoa and at a depth of 11.2 miles, said the US Geological Survey.

September 29, 2009
11:37 pm
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April 9, 2009
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8.3 is huge. Some of the facts don't make sence, that a wave 6 feet high only went 100 yards up the shore, but a village was flattened??? Shaking was over 3 minutes long. I can tell you a 6.9 for only 30 seconds is bad enough, couldn;t imagine this one. Seems like the official reports will be telling water went much further in than 100 yards IMHO. Lets hope that was all the further it flowed in.

September 30, 2009
8:07 am
Forum Posts: 3278
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April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Ugh, just what I need. Everyone here in HB is freaking out and packing their crap because the news is putting stupid thoughts in their heads.

War is an extension of economics and diplomacy through other means.

Economics and diplomacy are methods of securing resources used by humans.

Securing resources is the one necessary behavior for all living things.

War = Life

September 30, 2009
9:22 am
Forum Posts: 10297
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April 9, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Death count in Samoa is now at 82 in the village that was wiped out. The waves were to hit California beaches around 9pm PST. The cleared the beaches, but said they didn;t exect much to happen. I guess I don;t understand if its small, how they can even tell it from any other wave???

September 30, 2009
6:02 pm
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This report states a 15-20 foot wall of water reached one mile inland, which is far different than initial reports waves reached 100 yds. Many more are still missing. A second unrelated quake hit in Indonesia.

Tsunami in South Pacific islands kills nearly 100
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Slideshow:Strong quake triggers tsunami in Samoa Play Video Video:Tsunami carnage in American Samoa Reuters Play Video Video:Raw video: Quake spawns tsunami in Samoa AP AP – Debris is strewn around a church in Leone, American Samoa Tuesday Sept. 29, 2009 after a powerful Pacific … By KENI LESA and FILI SAGAPOLUTELE, Associated Press Writers Keni Lesa And Fili Sagapolutele, Associated Press Writers – 9 mins ago
APIA, Samoa – A massive tsunami unleashed by a powerful earthquake flattened Samoan villages and swept cars and people out to sea, killing at least 99 and leaving dozens missing Wednesday. The death toll was expected to rise.

Survivors fled the waves of water for higher ground on the South Pacific islands after the magnitude 8.0 quake struck at 6:48 a.m. local time (1:48 p.m. EDT; 1748 GMT) Tuesday. The quake was centered about 120 miles south of the islands of Samoa, which has about 180,000 people, and American Samoa, a U.S. territory of 65,000.

Four tsunami waves 15 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) high roared ashore on American Samoa about 15 minutes after the quake, reaching up to a mile (1.5 kilometers) inland, Mike Reynolds, superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, was quoted as saying by a parks service spokeswoman.Less than 24 hours later, another strong underwater earthquake rocked western Indonesia on Wednesday, briefly triggering a tsunami alert for countries along the Indian Ocean. The 7.6-magnitude quake toppled buildings, cut power and triggered a landslide on Sumatra island, and at least 75 people were reported killed. Experts said the seismic events were not related.

The Samoan capital, Apia, was virtually deserted by afternoon, with schools and businesses closed. Hours after the waves struck, sirens rang out with another tsunami alert and panicked residents headed for higher ground again, although there was no indication of a new quake.

In American Samoa's capital of Pago Pago, the streets and fields were filled with ocean debris, mud, overturned cars and several boats as a massive cleanup effort stretched into the night. Several buildings in the city — just a few feet above sea level — were flattened. Power was expected to be out in some areas for up to a month.

In Washington, President Obama has declared a major disaster for American Samoa. Obama said in a statement early Wednesday that he and his wife, Michelle, "will keep those who have lost so much in our thoughts and prayers."

Hampered by power and communications outages, officials in the South Pacific islands struggled to determine damage and casualties.

Samoan police commissioner Lilo Maiava told The Associated Press that police had confirmed 63 deaths but devastated areas were still being searched.

At least 30 people were killed on American Samoa, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said, adding that the toll was expected to rise from searches by emergency crews.

"I don't think anybody is going to be spared in this disaster," said Tulafono, who was in Hawaii for a conference. He added that a member of his extended family was among the dead.

Authorities in Tonga, southwest of the Samoas, confirmed at least six dead and four missing, according to New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Bill English.

Joey Cummings of radio station 93KHJ in Pago Pago told the BBC that he and his colleagues watched from a balcony as a 15-foot tsunami wave struck, and "the air was filled with screams."

He yelled for people to run uphill, "but they just ran down the street away from the wave rather than make a sharp left and up the steep mountain just feet away."

A "river of mud" carried trees, cars, buses and boats past his building, which is practically at sea level, Cummings told the BBC.

Some people searched for trapped survivors, he said, but others looted stores. Bodies were stacked in the back of pickup trucks, he added.

Alex Godinet, chief of staff for American Samoa's congressional delegate, said his "whole house and everything was shaking." When he went to the nearby village of Leone, the tsunami wave had already struck and receded.

"People, elders were trying to crawl all over the place, crawl up to higher place, higher areas," he told NBC's "Today" show.

All 65 employees at the National Park of American Samoa were accounted for, although at least one of them lost a home, said Holly Bundock, spokeswoman for the National Park Service's Pacific West Region in Oakland, Calif. The park service employs 13 permanent workers and between 30 and 50 volunteers, depending on the time of year.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said three Australians were among the dead. The British Foreign Office said one Briton was missing and presumed dead.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi looked shaken as he flew from Auckland, New Zealand, to 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.

"Thankfully, the alarm sounded on the radio and gave people time to climb to higher ground," he said. "But not everyone escaped."

Tulafono said that because the closeness of the community in American Samoa, "each and every family is going to be affected by someone who's lost their life." He spoke to reporters in Hawaii before boarding a Coast Guard C-130 plane loaded with aid and carrying Federal Emergency Management Agency officials.

A New Zealand P3 Orion maritime surveillance airplane had reached the region Wednesday and had searched for survivors off the coast, he said.

The Samoa Red Cross estimated that 15,000 people were affected by the tsunami.

New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the Samoan beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's National Radio from a hill near Apia. "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 'round here."

Residents of both Samoa and American Samoa said they were shaken awake by Tuesday's quake, which lasted two to three minutes and was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) below the ocean floor. It was followed by at least three large aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude.

The quake came Tuesday morning for the Samoas, which lie just east of the international dateline. For Asia-Pacific countries on the other side of the line, it was already Wednesday.

American Samoa's dominant industry — tuna canning — was also affected. Chicken of the Sea's packing plant was forced to close, although the facility wasn't damaged, the San Diego-based company said.

The effects of the tsunami could be felt nearly 5,000 miles away (7,500 kilometers) on a Japanese island, though there were no reports of damage or injuries there.

U.S. officials said strong currents and dangerous waves were forecast from California to Washington state. No major flooding was expected, however.

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

Although the quakes in the Samoas and Indonesia struck within 24 hours of each other, experts said there was no link between them.

"When you look at that, it's like, 'Oh something's going on there.' But researchers are convinced that because quakes are essentially a random process that they're not related," said Don Blakeman, an analyst for the U.S.-based National Earthquake Information Center.

Various factors explain why the Samoa earthquake caused a massive tsunami and the Indonesia quake, with a magnitude of 7.6, did not.

The difference in magnitude was one factor, Blakeman said. "It also has to do with the depth of earthquakes. The Samoan one was very shallow. The Sumatran one, I think, was about 80 kilometers (49 miles)."

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