A sub-sea earthquake appears to be the cause of a massive tsunami some 120 miles off the coast of Samoa, an island in the South Pacific, home to around 475,000 people. The 8.0-magnitude earthquake created a tsunami that eyewitnesses say was around 20 feet high, engulfing buildings around the island’s perimeter.
The Independent State of Samoa sustained at least 110 casualties, while at least 24 lost their lives in the adjoining U.S. territory of American Samoa. The death toll is expected to rise.
More casualties are confirmed on the small northern island of Niuatoputapu, in Tonga.
Rev. Saitumua Tafaoialii, pastor of the First Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Utah (Disciples of Christ), has informed Week of Compassion that many families in his congregation are currently unable to contact their families in Samoa, as the tsunami has damaged communication infrastructure. He reports that his wife lost several family members during the storm, and many Samoans across the United States are in similar situations.
Through our partners at Church World Service (CWS), we are monitoring the situation, staying in contact with FEMA Region 9 staff and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
CWS stands ready to provide material resources, training and project development support to the affected areas.
We are also remaining in contact with Rev. Tafaoialii and his church, as they will be able to pass along information about needs that arise from their family and friends affected by the tsunami.
Our prayers of hope and healing go out to all of those who are grieving, living in uncertainty, and beginning the long journey of recovery. We pray that God’s grace will be with each and every person touched by this tragedy.
If you would like to make a contribution for relief efforts in the areas affected by the tsunami, visit the Week of Compassion website to make an online donation or send a check to WoC, PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206.