Samoa/Tonga: Tsunami OCHA Situation Report No. 5

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 04 Oct 2009
This report was issued by OCHA New York, with inputs from OCHA Fiji and OCHA ROAP. It covers the period from 03/10/09 to 04/10/09. The next report will be issued on or around 05/10/09.

HIGHLIGHTS/KEY PRIORITIES

- Death toll in Samoa has risen to 135, 8 still missing. 20 villages completely destroyed.

- An estimated 3,500 people are displaced in Samoa.

- Food, water, shelter, clothing and sanitation are key relief priorities.

- The Government of Samoa has indicated transition from relief to early recovery planning.

- The Government of Samoa estimates the total damage at US$ 147.25 million

II. Situation Overview

In the morning of 29 September, a powerful earthquake struck south of the main Samoan Island chain with its epicentre 190 km south of the Samoan capital of Apia. Few minutes later, as warned by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, a series of quake-triggered tsunami waves hit American Samoa, Samoa, and the small northern island of Niuatoputapu in Tonga. The tsunami waves, some of which are said to have been as high as six metres, caused fatalities, casualties and serious damage to the affected Pacific Island countries.

Samoa

The death toll in Samoa continues to rise while bodies are recovered and now stands at 135, with the majority of victims being female, young or the elderly. Relief efforts are now mainly focussed on the southern coast of Upolu, which is the worst hit area. The Samoan Red Cross (SRC) assessments indicate that 40 villages have been affected along the south-eastern coast, with 20 villages completely destroyed by the tsunami waves. Despite the damage sustained, the affected areas are well accessible by road. The Government of Samoa, SRC, Caritas, and other national organisations continue to distribute relief items, including food, water, clothing and tarpaulins.

Food, water, shelter, clothing and sanitation continue relief priorities. A number of international organisations are supporting humanitarian relief and early recovery activities.

Tonga

The efforts of the Government of Tonga and the Red Cross are focused on the island of Niuatoputapu, with support from Australia, New Zealand and France. Food, shelter, non-food items and emergency medical supplies have been distributed, or are lined up for delivery. The Government of Tonga and the Red Cross indicate that current relief efforts are within the capacity of existing partners and that the situation is under control. It is likely that additional support will be sought to manage early recovery efforts.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator will travel to Tonga on Monday 5 October (Fiji time) to begin supporting early recovery initiatives. Considerations for early recovery efforts are likely to include: health, water and sanitation infrastructure, psychosocial support, agriculture and fishing.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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