THE DAY AFTER: Samoa Tsunami (Galu lolo)

For many in Samoa, the sunrise this morning was a welcome reprieve from a day of earthquake and tsunami devastation followed by a sleepless night of wondering if something much bigger was on the horizon for the Day After.

Samoa and American Samoa disaster relief and government authorities worked well into the night and the early hours of this morning assessing damages in the island nations hardest hit areas and villages. As was reported yesterday, Lalomanu, Aleipata, Siumu and the whole tourist beach resort areas on the South-east side of Upolu right through to Fagaloa bore the full force of the tsunami. Some conflicting reports in International media networks regarding the size of the initial wave, left hundreds of families in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United States scrambling to make contact with loved ones living or vacationing in both Samoas. Land and cellphone lines were jammed for the best part of the day. The earliest report stated that the initial wave was 1.57 metres high while a later report claimed a 3 metre high wave had struck.

In its wake, a still unconfirmed 100 lives have been lost in Samoa while in American Samoa – international media claims a confirmed loss of 45 lives in Fagatogo and Pago Pago. Last night in a televised interview from Honolulu Hawaii, American Samoa Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono issued a state of emergency for his U.S. Territorial island nation and along with Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann sent their condolences to the families in Samoa who have joined many in mourning the loss of a loved one.

Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Aiono Malielegaoi was excused from meetings with the United Nations in New York City so to return home to assist his people, stopping briefly to receive the condolences from NZ Prime Minister John Key and the promise of assistance and aide from New Zealand. In his place, Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni Retzlaff had mobilized all facets of Samoa’s Disaster Relief team, including hospitals, paramedics, evacuation and search and rescue peoples and was himself seen delivering tents and food supplies to people who remained on higher ground even after the tsunami warning was lifted late yesterday afternoon.

Misa Telefoni Retzlaff persevered in tending to the needs of the people even when news of his cousin and island stalwart, Mrs. Tui Annandale, owner and operator of Sinalei Resort in Siumu, died when a wave hit the vehicle she was travelling in with her husband and other family members. [FULL STORY + PHOTOS]

Earthquake and Tsunami hit early

On the news, Pipi Autagavaia reported that the earthquake hit in the early hours of the morning, while people were just getting up and making their way to work and school.

Reports (from my family) in Apia said that school buses, loaded with children, were forced to take a detour to higher ground. People in the Apia area, including Lotopa, Vaimoso and Alafua, were evacuated up to the NUS building in To’omatagi.

Apparently, the earthquake was centered in the ocean between Samoa and American Samoa, so the east side of Upolu – Fagaloa, Lalomanu, Aleipata down to Siumu – and the west side of Tutuila – Poloa, Amanave, down to Leone – were hit the worst.

Death toll is to be confirmed, but some reports are counting over 100 in both Samoas.

Please visit our NEWSWATCH FORUM in the Village for updates from our Natives.