Barack Obama declares Samoa Tsuami as ‘major disaster’

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    United States President Barack Obama declared American Samoa as “a major disaster”, after the remote Pacific island was hit by a tsunami that left at least 14 people dead there.

    “The president tonight declared a major disaster exists in the territory of American Samoa and ordered federal aid to supplement territory and local recovery efforts in the area struck by an earthquake, tsunami, and flooding,” a statement from the White House said.

    A tsunami triggered by a massive 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck American Samoa and neighboring independent Samoa, killing at least 36 people across the two remote islands. Of those, 14 were reported killed in American Samoa.

    The presidential declaration will make available both immediate resources for emergency response measures as well as federal funding for American Samoa, the statement said.

    The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has named Kenneth Tingman the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area, the statement added.

    FEMA said they were dispatching two emergency teams to the region, though it was unclear how quickly its personnel would arrive. It has also pre-positioned supplies in Hawaii that could be used for emergency response.

    Officials in Apia in independent Samoa said the death toll from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami was at least 36, and was expected to rise significantly.

    “It was an earthquake, which caused a tidal wave 15 feet (4.5 meters) in height,” said Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa’s delegate to the US Congress.

    “Some of the areas there are only a few feet above sea level, so you can imagine the devastation,” Faleomavaega told AFP by telephone.

    With AFP