09.29.2009 12:00 PM
Tsunami Hits American Samoa
PACIFIC OCEAN: An
undersea earthquake about 125 miles from Samoa has caused a tsunami that washed
over nearby American Samoa. The Pago Harbor area was hard hit, according to a
report posted by Kirk Harnack to his Facebook page.
The earthquake hit Sept. 29th at 6:48 a.m. local time (1:48 p.m. EDT) and the
wave reached Pago Pago around 8:13 a.m. local time (3:13 p.m. EDT).
Harnack, director of international business development for Telos Systems, is
vice president of engineering for South Seas Broadcasting, which owns KKHJ-FM
and WVUV-FM in Pago Pago, American Samoa. According to a report posted by
Harnack from Joey Cummings, manager of the stations, the Pago Harbor area was
hit with a wave 20 feet to 40 feet in height. AC power is out to the stations
and is believed to be out at the transmitter site.
“All cars in our building’s parking lot are washed out to the harbor. KKHJ-FM
and WVUV-FM--our offices, too--are on the second floor of the Pago Plaza
building. They’re OK. But the ground-mounted generator (landlord provided) is
non-operable now,” Cummings wrote.
“Reports of cars, ‘aiga busses’ (private busses) and school busses being washed
out to the harbor or to sea. Surely dozens missing and presumed drowned. Dozens
if not hundreds of businesses surround Pago Harbor--many of them are now gone,”
Cummings said that the stations were able to activate the EAS system and to get
two warnings out to the public before the tsunami hit.
Larry Fuss, president of South Seas Broadcasting, relayed a similar message to
“We were able to air the tsunami warning several times before it hit. Power
went off shortly thereafter. The generator for the studio is in the parking
lot, which is under 15 feet of water, so we're now off air until we figure out
an alternate power source,” Fuss wrote. “Our staff is all accounted for. Many
of our automobiles are not.”
It is likely to be several days before the full impact of the wave is known.
According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, the earthquake was centered 110 miles
east-northeast of Hihifo, Tonga; 125 miles south-southwest of Apia, Samoa; 435
miles north-northeast of Nuku‘alofa, Tonga; and 1,670 miles north-northeast of
Auckland, New Zealand.
Currently (3:30 p.m. EDT on Sept. 29), a tsunami warning is in effect for
American Samoa, Samoa, Niue, Wallis-Futuna, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Tonga,
Tuvalu, Kiribati, Kermadec Islands, Howland-Baker, Jarvis Island, New Zealand,
French Polynesia and Palmyra Atoll. Under a tsunami watch are Hawai’i, Vanuatu,
Nauru, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Johnston Atoll, New Caledonia, Kosrae,
Papua New Guinea, Pohnpeo, Wake Island, Pitcairn Island and Midway. -- T. Carter Ross
(Image by Pablo Fernández)