At least 100 people are believed dead, but there have been no definite reports from the south of the island. The earthquake had already got everyone’s attention. 8.3 is a big quake. The tsunami was reported differently by people in different places. Some said there was a big surge of water. Other reports were of huge waves, plural.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Witnesses told of scenes of panic and confusion after the earthquake hurled giant waves at the islands of Samoa, smashing buildings, throwing cars and hurling boats ashore. Young men banged gas canisters like "church bells" to bring thousands of frightened people streaming to higher ground as the disaster unfolded in coastal towns below.
Those guys banging on the gas canisters probably saved a lot of lives. The pictures coming out tell a plain enough story, even if the reports are understandably garbled at the moment. There are vehicles all over the place, one of which looks like it’s been in a head on.
A main road is underwater with the telltale debris floating past. Some buildings have been demolished. Pictures show a yacht perched on its keel on a main road, and an empty space with a few palm trees is described as the “Sinalei Resort”. The Development Bank of American Samoa is intact, with various donations from the waves in the form of debris hung like bunting on the building.
The Daily Telegraph has an interesting picture
from the New Zealand Herald, showing the tsunami coming in.
If you look at the horizon, the thing’s about a kilometer offshore, from one side of the picture to the other, and already breaking in places. In others, it’s not breaking at all, and looks like a big surge. The wave, when it hit, would have looked different in different areas.
Aid from Australia and New Zealand will be coming as fast as it can, but until then, the Samoas islands are facing a big cleanup. Another tsunami warning was sounded after the first, no reports of any actual strike have yet been received.