Samoa tsunami death toll rises to 170: officials



There were 129 dead in Samoa, 32 in American Samoa and nine people were killed on a nearby island in Tonga. A magnitude 8.0 earthquake just before 7:00 am on Tuesday triggered the waves which, according to survivors, rose up to nine metres as they pounded coastal settlements. The 10 missing in Samoa were feared to have died, which would raise the overall toll to 180.

"These are the ones who were swept out to sea or are buried under debris," said Vaosa Epa of the National Disaster Council. She said the number of missing was collated by police who have been interviewing families in the villages pounded by the tsunami. In American Samoa, 100 kilometres away, Director of Homeland Security Michael Sala said the confirmed toll there was 32 following a count by all the village mayors.

American Samoa's governor said most search and rescue operations had been halted and the situation was stabilising, a US aid official who spoke with him said. Governor Togiola Tulafono told the Federal Emergency Management Agency by phone that "they had essentially completed the bulk of the search and rescue", said FEMA chief Craig Fugate.

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