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Quake triggers Tsunami in the Samoas, killing 34
Updated: 2009-09-30 09:20

Quake triggers Tsunami in the Samoas, killing 34

A damaged shop front is seen after a tsunami hit Pago Pago September 30, 2009 in this photo taken by a resident of American Samoa and forwarded to Reuters. [Agencies]Quake triggers Tsunami in the Samoas, killing 34

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's 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."

The Samoan capital was virtually deserted with schools and businesses closed.

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

American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono was at his Honolulu office assessing the situation but was having difficulty getting information, said Filipp Ilaoa, deputy director of the office.

Rescue workers found a scene of destruction and debris with cars overturned or stuck in mud, and rockslides hit some roads. Several students were seen ransacking a gas station/convenience store.

Quake triggers Tsunami in the Samoas, killing 34

An overturned vehicle is stranded among wreckage after a tsunami hit the village of Si'umu in Western Samoa September 30, 2009 in this photo taken by a resident of Western Samoa and forwarded to Reuters. [Agencies]Quake triggers Tsunami in the Samoas, killing 34

Chicken of the Sea's tuna packing plant in American Samoa was closed after the tsumani hit, although the facility wasn't damaged, the San Diego-based company said in a statement. Tuna canneries are American Samoa's dominant industry, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all economic activity.

Prior to tsunami, Chicken of the Sea had announced plans to close the plant on Wednesday, laying off more than 2,100 workers.

Rear Adm. Manson Brown, Coast Guard commander for the Pacific region, said the Coast Guard is in the early stages of assessing what resources to send to American Samoa. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Titchen said a C-130 was being dispatched Wednesday to deliver aid, asssess damage and take the governor back home. A New Zealand air force P3 Orion maritime search airplane also was being sent.

One of the runways at Pago Pago (Pan-go, pan-go) International Airport was being cleared of widespread debris for emergency use, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said in Los Angeles.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was deploying teams to American Samoa to provide support and assess damage.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of American Samoa and all those in the region who have been affected by these natural disasters," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

The ramifications of the tsunami could be felt thousands of miles away, with federal officials saying strong currents and dangerous waves were forecast from California to Washington state. No major flooding was expected, however.

Quake triggers Tsunami in the Samoas, killing 34
A powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake generated Pacific tsunami on Wednesday, killing an unknown number of people in American and Western Samoa and sending others fleeing for higher ground, officials said. [Agencies]

The earthquake and tsunami were big, but not on the same scale of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed more than 150,000 across Asia the day after Christmas in 2004, said tsunami expert Brian Atwater of the US Geological Survey in Seattle.

The 2004 earthquake was at least 10 times stronger than the 8.0 to 8.3 measurements being reported for Tuesday's quake, Atwater said. It's also a different style of earthquake than the one that hit in 2004.

The tsunami hit American Samoa about 25 minutes after the quake, which is similar to the travel time in 2004, Atwater said. The big difference is there were more people in Indonesia at risk than in Samoa.

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