A TSUNAMI Hit Tonga After An Underwater Volcanic Eruption.

A tsunami blasted villagers off their feet and swept away homes yesterday in the South Pacific nation of Samoa after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake set off an underwater volcanic eruption.

Authorities said at least 10 people were killed in Samoa and hundreds more are missing, with many casualties expected to be washed out to sea by the tsunami that reached heights of one to two meters.

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“I got knocked over by the water, I couldn’t get up because it kept knocking me down,” said 11-year-old Malei Leni, from the village of Solosolo in Samoa. “I thought I was going to die. The water kept coming and we didn’t know which way to run.”

Palu Malohy, a spokesman for Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, said the death toll was expected to rise as reports came in from outlying areas of Samoa.

Source: Indian Express

Malohy said it appeared many people had drowned after the first wave hit about 9 am local time (11 pm GMT) on Wednesday.

“It smashed everybody against the side of the mountain and into buildings,” he said. “Many of our communities have been destroyed.”

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck 120km east-northeast of Apia, Samoa – a remote South Pacific island nation. Some were aware there was taking place an earthquake but many woke up to the sight of water surging around them.

“It’s calm now, very quiet,” said Patilia Toleafoa, who lives near the coast in the village of Lalomanu. “One house got washed away by the sea water because close to it there was a cliff.”

The tsunami traveled west across an area known as the French Frigate Shoals – where the US military keeps one of its largest live firing ranges. The USGS said the tsunami reached a height of about 15m and was detected as far away as Japan, Russia, and Hawaii.

A tidal gauge at Apia in Samoa recorded an initial wave measuring 3.6m following the earthquake, with officials warning 22ft waves could be expected as far as 500km from the epicenter. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said hazardous tsunami waves could hit American Samoa, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

A warning was also issued for Tokelau, a small territory split between two South Pacific island nations – the first time a tsunami warning has been issued for the island chain. A watch was put in place for Fiji and Wallis and Futuna.

Tsunami warnings were lifted for American Samoa, Australia, Wallis and Futuna, Indonesia, Pohnpei, Saipan, Kosrae, and Nauru.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the tsunami would not reach California or Chile either.

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