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Search continues, as death toll rises

Published: 6:25PM Friday October 02, 2009 Source: ONE News

Another earthquake on Friday has rattled the Pacific, as the search for bodies continues in tsunami-devastated Samoa.

The death toll currently stands at 189, most of those from Samoa.

Three New Zealanders have now been confirmed to have died, including a two-year-old boy from Auckland.

He was swept out to sea as he was playing on the beach with his parents at Lalomanu when the wave came ashore on Wednesday. His parents were able to swim to safety.

Raglan's Mary Ann White , 55, is the only New Zealander who died to be named so far.

Meanwhile, fears are mounting for the New Zealanders still missing.

MFAT says the numbers of Kiwis injured now stands at 18 and officials in Samoa are still trying to track down 239 New Zealanders unaccounted for.

On the ground the cleanup seems insurmountable, the only way to cope is one piece of rubble at a time.

However ONE News has had a camera in the air over Samoa, and it is from there where the scope of the devastation and tragedy is clear.

It is obvious that whole coastal villages have been swallowed up and spat out by the ocean.

Some locals are angry over the lack of an official warning before the tsunami hit.

"The only warning my wife and daughter and the kids got was from me," says Knox Peni.

No sirens sounded and there was no voice of authority to guide them.

Locals say there were no warnings on the radio either, just music playing as normal.

ONE News understands a text warning was supposed to go to local officials and the alarm raised from there, but many believe the system is unreliable and should be automated.

About one minute after the earthquake, the first waves rolled in. But it wasn't until 18 minutes later that the larger, devastating wave hit.

"If there was a warning, one minute would save a life," says Peni.

Locals say they want the system urgently reviewed, in case there's a next time.

Meanwhile, members of the public have contacted the ministry about roughly 800 New Zealanders who may have been in Samoa at the time. The ministry is aware of 619 who are confirmed as alive and well.

The High Commission in Apia is checking on another 231, an MFAT spokesman says.

There is a new phone number for New Zealanders concerned about family members: 0800 432 111.

This has been changed to encourage people to report those they have concerns about and for people who have heard from their loved ones so a list of accounted for people can be updated.The New Zealand Red Cross has launched a Samoa Tsunami Relief project at Oxfam NZ is also accepting donations online at , by phone 0800 400 666, or you can make make an automatic $20 donation, please call 0900 600 20

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  • jaxlino said on 2009-10-07 @ 14:15 NZDT: Report abusive post

    anyone from the Satitoa village?

  • markservian said on 2009-10-05 @ 21:05 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Tai Taufua is interviewed in this story...

  • Liviyj12 said on 2009-10-05 @ 19:30 NZDT: Report abusive post

    i feel sorry fot those who have been affected.... i also feel sorry for Vai. he has lost so much of his family..:(

  • Micksta said on 2009-10-05 @ 11:16 NZDT: Report abusive post

    My heart goes out to everyone who has lost family member/s in the earthquake and tsunami. I know what it would be like, as I was in Samoa as the earthquake struck and I read and saw the devastating effects of the tsunami that followed, both in newspapers and also for real. I would like to say that Nuu Black Sand Beach was hit my the tsunami and is in a bad state (Not that much of an attraction now).

  • PurpleOlive said on 2009-10-05 @ 09:04 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I am so sad for all who have lost family members. We are humbled by how quickly lives can be lost. Our hearts go out to each and every one of you and I cry tears for your sweet babies. Your pain is shared by our thoughts and may you find the strength within yourselves to carry on, xox