Tsunami Claims 34 Lives in Samoa

The strong earthquake that caused Tsunami waves in the Samoan islands have claimed 34 lives so far, said media reports.

On Wednesday, a powerful earthquake measuring 8 on Richter scale hit between the islands of Samoa and American Samoa and triggered tsunami waves, which destroyed coastal regions, pulling down buildings and sending cars floating out to sea. Survivors fled to high ground and stayed there for hours.

According to information, authorities are working to take stock of the number of victims and the extent of destruction. Up to 100 might have been killed in Samoa alone, said Reuters news agency quoting the Samoan disaster management agency.

Tsunami waves measured 1.57 metres high at the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago. Mike Reynolds, the superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, reported four tsunami waves as high as six metres.

For aid delivery, the US Coast Guard is dispatching a C-130 plane to American Samoa. New Zealand is sending an Orion maritime search plane to Samoa to help look for victims.

Media reports said that following initial earthquake, strong aftershocks were felt, with at least one measuring a magnitude 5.6. Tsunami alerts were issued for the entire South Pacific region but were later canceled.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning for all of its eastern coast, predicting a tsunami of up to 50 centimeters.

People who experienced the quake said that it was long, lasting from 90 seconds to three minutes.

The US Geological Survey reports that the earthquake struck about 180 kilometers east of Tonga in the South Pacific, at a depth of 18 kilometers.

Experts say that the quake took place midway between Samoa and American Samoa.  The Samoan Islands are in the southern Pacific Ocean, about halfway between New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands.

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