Continued caution urged for NZ coast

05:56, Sep 30 2009
tsunami samoa
A main road in the downtown area of Fagatogo, is seen flooded by water from a tsunami located in the main town area in American Samoa.
Christopher Moore of NOAA looks at computer graphs at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawaii.
A car is seen pushed up against a bridge after strong sea water from the tsunami filled a small stream in the village of Fagatogo, located in the main town area in American Samoa.
A boat from Malaloa Marina is seen on the edge of the main highway in the village of Fagatogo, in American Samoa.
tsunami samoa
Sinalei Resort in Samoa after the tsunami hit.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoan Tsunami screengrab
Screengrab taken from footage of the aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
Samoa tsunami
Picture taken in Samoa following the tsunami.
Samoa tsunami
Picture taken in Samoa following the tsunami.
Samoa tsunami
Picture taken in Samoa following the tsunami.
Samoa tsunami
Scene of devastation following the tsunami in Samoa.
Samoa tsunami
Scene of devastation following the tsunami in Samoa.
Samoa tsunami
Scene of devastation following the tsunami in Samoa.
Samoa tsunami
Scene of devastation following the tsunami in Samoa.
The tsunami swept through Leone, American Samoa
UNDER WATER: The tsunami swept through Leone, American Samoa.
A ute comes to rest after the earthquake
STRANDED: A ute comes to rest after the earthquake and tsunami struck Leone, American Samoa.
Homes have been turned to rubble
DESTRUCTION: Homes have been turned to rubble after earthquake and tsunami hit Leone, American Samoa.
 Personal belongings lie strewen around in the aftermath of the tsunami
SCATTERED: Personal belongings lie strewen around in the aftermath of the tsunami in Leone, American Samoa.
Villagers assess the damege in Leone, American Samoa.
RETURNING: Villagers assess the damege in Leone, American Samoa.
A fale sits in the middle of surrounding destruction.
STILL STANDING: A fale sits in the middle of surrounding destruction.
Tsunami wave
WAVES OF DESTRUCTION: Tsunami waves approach American Samoa's Tafuna International Airport in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Mary Ann White
VICTIM: Mary Ann White, one of the New Zealanders killed after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Samoa. Mrs White was on holiday with her husband and friends at the time.
samoa tsunami
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in American Samoa.
samoa tsunami
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
The aftermath of the tsunami in Samoa.
samoa tsunami
Police search for bodies behind the Boomerang resort, Samoa, which was completely destroyed by the tsunami.
samoa tsunami
Devastation around Aleipata, in Samoa, caused by the tsunami.
samoa tsunami
A boat left high and dry in the village of Poutasi in Samoa.
samoa tsunami
An old woman talks on the phone about the destruction of her village, Saletata, in Samoa.
samoa tsunami
6-year-old Michael Suafai managed to retrieve his toy truck after his home in the Samoan village of Saletata was destroyed by yesterdays tsunami.
samoa tsunami
What remains of the Seabreeze Resort in Samoa after the tsunami.
FROM THE GROUND UP: Only one building remains in the resort area of Aleipata. "This was a major moment for the world and for Samoa,'' says Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele.
Lalomanu
Wrecked cars litter the resort area of Aleipata, in Samoa.
Aleipata
The grim search for bodies on the beach at the resort area of Aleipata in Samoa.
Saita Eti
Saita Eti had a lucky escape when he tried to drive his vehicle away from the flooding by the tsunami and ended up floating 100 metres away, here. He was rescued from the cab unhurt.
Samoa tsunami destruction
The body of a boy is taken from Lalomanu beach.
Samoan police carry the body of a tsumani victim found in the water near Matavai on the Samoa's southern coast.
Samoan police carry the body of a tsumani victim found in the water near Matavai on the Samoa's southern coast.
A man carrying his child walks past a boat that was washed ashore in Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa.
A man carrying his child walks past a boat that was washed ashore in Pago Pago Harbour, American Samoa.
Samoa tsunami devastastion
A Samoan man walks through debris of his neighbourhood near Lalomanu.
Samoa tsunami devastastion
The scene in the tsunami-damaged village of Vaigalu on Samoa's southern coast.
Samoa Murray McCully
JUST A MEMORY: New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, in Samoa to help coordinate the New Zeakland relief effort, looks at the devastation on Lalomanu beach where he holidayed three months ago. All that is left of the resort where he stayed is a wrecked restaurant sign.
Petria Martin
GRAVE FEARS: Petria Martin, team leader at Matamata sports centre. Foreign Affairs holds grave fears for her.
Tautua Eteuati and Tauaavaga Tupuola
SWEPT AWAY: Tautua Eteuati, left, was holding Tauaavaga Tupuola, right, when she was swept away.
Vaalele Eti with the sign to the village of Vaigalu
Vaalele Eti with the sign to the village of Vaigalu.
Samoa tsunami devastastion
The stench of rotting flesh is overpowering along the stretch of coast devastated by the Tsunami.
General Jerry Mataparae
Head of Samoa's army, General Jerry Mataparae, at Lalomanu beach.

New Zealand Civil Defence authorities have cancelled the tsunami alert issued following a large earthquake in the Pacific this morning.

The warning was issued after an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale hit near the islands of Samoa, sparking a tsunami which killed dozens of people, including at least one New Zealander.

Many houses were wiped out and the death toll continues to rise.

While waves resulting from the quake were recorded in coastal parts of New Zealand this morning and this afternoon, they weren't significant enough to cause damage.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said wave activity was expected to continue around New Zealand on a diminishing level into the evening.

There was still a likelihood of strong currents in coastal areas, but beach areas were now considered safe.

Local authorities reported being generally pleased with the response this morning to the tsunami warning, despite some people ignoring advice.

That included surfers heading out to catch "the wave" at Makorori beach near Gisborne.

The Gisborne Herald reported that there was some initial confusion in the area as to how serious the threat was as the situation was being dramatised on television while being talked down by local authorities.

There was nevertheless a significant flow of people right along the East Coast heading to higher ground to either get out of harm's way or get a view of the ocean.

Far North District Council spokeswoman Alison Lees told NZPA that emergency response plans for coastal communities had been set up over the past year and the urgent response to today's warning was pleasing.

She said locals needed little encouragement from Civil Defence representatives to vacate their low-lying homes as most did so on their own accord after seeing or hearing media reports.

Me Lees said there was a "barely detectable" increase in wave activity from about 10.30am.

Waikato Civil Defence chairman Peter Lee said sirens were used at various harbours to alert people to the risk and emergency plans were generally well activated.

In the Bay of Plenty the TrustPower TECT rescue helicopter flew along the coast from Waihi Beach to Otamarakau with occupants using a load hailer system to urge residents to evacuate.

Emergency response plans were enacted right down to the bottom of the South Island.

samoa quake
Estimated times of tsunami following Samoa quake which struck at 6.48am this morning.

MORE AIRLINE SEATS, CARGO SPACE

Blankets, clothing and other aid items have been sent to Samoa on an Air New Zealand passenger jet to assist those who lost possessions in today's tsunami.

Air NZ airline operations general manager David Morgan said the 777-200 ER plane departed this afternoon with several hundred blankets, over 1000 t-shirts and basic amenity packs with items like toothbrushes and tooth paste from the airline's stores.

"While these may seem small items, they will be greatly appreciated by those who have been left with nothing or little in the wake of the tsunami..." Mr Morgan said.

He said reports were coming in of people turning up at the airport in Apia wearing only pyjamas.

Air NZ was liaising with the New Zealand and Samoan governments and was ramping up its service between Auckland and Samoa tomorrow with a Boeing 777-200ER replacing a 767 to provide an additional 85 seats and extra cargo space.

There have been over 50 confirmed deaths in the Samoa islands from the tsunami, including a New Zealander, and there have also been reports of deaths in Tonga.

 

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