The full of extent of the tragedy in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga is yet to be realized after Wednesday’s destructive tsunami. The official death toll is now in excess of 140 and is likely to climb as more bodies are recovered from the rubble. Four Australians have been confirmed killed including three children.

Samoa is a much loved surfing destination for Australians and anyone who has visited the region will be deeply saddened by this awful news.

I spoke to a friend, a Samoan living in Australia, who told me her village had been completely flattened by the tsunami. She described the rush to evacuate the village and her brother swimming after the van as the waves hit. Her family escaped. Others in the region weren’t so lucky.

The south coast of Upolu was hit particularly badly and Tracks understands that the popular surf resort Salani has been destroyed. We have no news about the welfare of the Salani staff at this stage.

The coastal villages Lalomanu, Siumu and Aufaga were all hit by the full force of the tsunami waves and not much but rubble now remains along the coastline. The steep hills behind this coastline is thought to have hindred retreat to higher ground.

The earthquake, measuring 8.3 on the richter scale, struck around dawn about 35km below the ocean floor, 190km from American Samoa, a US territory 200km from Samoa. The quake caused a series of tidal waves, the biggest estimated to be 15 feet high.

The clean up process has only just began and the repurcussions will be felt for many years to come. Our thoughts go out to anyone affected by the tsunami.

HOW TO DONATE

Visit: www.redcross.org.au

Phone: 1800 811 700

Send a cheque or money order to: Pacific Tsunami Appeal, Australian Red Cross Supporter Services, PO Box 2957, Melbourne, VIC 8060

Australians with concerns for family or friends in Sumatra, Samoa, American Samoa or Tonga should first try to contact them directly. If they are unable to be contacted or you hold fears for their safety, you can call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135.