Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Australians confirmed dead in Samoa tsunami

Two Australians confirmed dead in Samoa tsunami


A six-year-old girl has died in the Samoa tsunami, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.
There are grave fears for another three Australians, he told the Seven Network.
The girl is Australian's second victim.
Marree Blacker, of Longford in Tasmania, was celebrating her 50th birthday with her husband John, a well-known horse-trainer, when the disaster struck.
Another six Australians are missing.
Troy Blacker says his brother John has a broken jaw and few other injuries.
"John's got few injuries sustained in the earthquake and unfortunately Maree has been confirmed killed," Mr Blacker said.
He said the couple were holidaying on one of Samoa's smaller islands when the tsunami hit.
"They were only there for a couple of more days before returning home and a devastating thing like this happens," Mr Blacker said.
He said the couple were in their room when the quake hit.
"The water and all that went over the top of them," he said.
"They felt the earthquake and then ran outside and when they went outside the waves were there to get them."
Mr Blacker said the couple had arrived on the island at the weekend.
A total of eight Australians have been injured - three of them are still in hospital.
"Current advice suggests none of them are in life-threatening situations," Australia's foreign affairs parliamentary secretary Bob McMullan told reporters.
Death toll could top 100
There are fears the death toll in Samoa could top 100 after the 8.3 magnitude quake struck early Tuesday morning local time (0348 Wednesday AEST), triggering a massive tsunami that washed through the Pacific.
One New Zealander has died and nine have been injured.
According to Mr McMullan, up to 10 people may have been killed in Tonga.
Samoa has formally asked for help from Australia, New Zealand and France, which are discussing how to best to provide aid such as tents, water purification tablets and medical supplies. Tonga has not yet asked for formal help.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke to Samoa's acting prime minister, offering Australia's sympathies and whatever practical assistance was needed.
"We see our friends in Samoa as part of our Pacific family," Mr Rudd told reporters.
"We are working ... very closely, not just with the Samoans, but with our friends in New Zealand, the government of France, and others who are active in the region to provide all levels of practical support possible.
"But it may take some time before the full impact of this natural disaster is known."
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the coalition would support the government's efforts to provide whatever assistance was necessary to help Australia's Pacific neighbour.
"The coalition extends its deepest sympathies to the affected families and communities as they cope with the loss of loved ones and the destruction of homes and businesses," she said in a statement.
Australia has two RAAF Hercules on standby at Richmond air base to deploy once details have been ironed out.
"We are finalising the details within the Australian government and with New Zealand and France," Mr McMullan said.
"I expect it would be of the character of medical teams and search and rescue teams, and things like tents to provide temporary shelter.
"The final details are still being worked out about who can most efficiently do which."
DFAT reissues travel advice
A disaster response team of officials from foreign affairs and defence was set to leave for Samoa on Wednesday afternoon.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has reissued its travel advice for Samoa, warning of the dangers associated with the disaster that hit parts of the island popular with tourists.
Authorities aren't sure exactly how many Australians may be in the affected areas but Mr McMullan said it was expected to be in the hundreds given the number who holidayed and worked in Samoa.
The numbers could be higher because of school holidays in Australia.
Tourists should still be able to leave by commercial flights but the government will consider additional assistance, if necessary.
The earthquake's proximity to islands meant communities had little warning of the impending giant wave that it triggered.
Mr McMullan said there was nothing to suggest the tsunami warning system had not worked.
"(But) if it is an issue we will have a look after we have dealt with the humanitarian crisis," he said.
Australia and New Zealand have both received appeals for help from the Samoan government.
"We are now discussing with the New Zealand and Samoan governments how best we can meet this request," a spokesman from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.
A team of officials from foreign affairs and defence is en route to Samoa.
United States President Barack Obama has declared "a major disaster exists" in American Samoa, while Samoa's deputy prime minister Misa Telefoni says popular resort areas have been devastated.
DFAT has reissued its travel advice for Samoa, warning of the dangers associated with the overnight natural disasters.


For more INFO, see this

No comments:

Post a Comment