Pacific tsunami causes severe destruction
30 September 2009
Caritas teams say that a significant tsunami triggered by an 8.3-magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific has caused appalling destruction on the Samoa islands.
Wreckage is seen at the site of a village meeting house in Leone, American Samoa September 30, 2009.
The quake struck at dawn, causing a tsunami that killed people and swept away property in Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa) and American Samoa (a US territory).
In Samoa, the tsunami struck the south sides of the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i. Although not heavily populated areas, they’re still home to fishing communities and some hotels.
A Caritas team visited one of the worst affected areas on the south side of Upolu. Caritas staff helped survivors find higher ground, clear the land and prepare temporary shelter.
Caritas Samoa Director Puletini Tuala described the destruction caused by the severity of the wave as “appalling”. He said the first concern had been to gather the people, and lead them to higher ground, then to assist with shelter and carry out an assessment of other needs.
Caritas fears for the fisherman who still have not returned to their villages.
On the island of Savai’i, also part of Samoa, the Catholic school has been converted to a medical centre to help people injured by the tsunami there.
Caritas Samoa is coordinating with the National Disaster Team and the Red Cross to plan coordination for the tsunami response. It is also coordinating with Caritas members in the region to respond to the emergency.
The focus of Caritas Samoa’s work is disaster risk reduction. Just this month, they hosted Caritas members from the Oceania region and visited the south coast of Upolu for a tsunami response exercise.
Please contact Patrick Nicholson on 0039 334 359 0700 or email@example.com
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand: Martin de Jong 0064 (0)4 496 1742 or 0064 (0)21-909 688.
Caritas Australia: Tim O’Connor 0061 (0)2 8306 3444 or 0061 (0)417 284 831