Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something unimaginable

The beautiful south coast of Samoa.

I woke this morning to the news of a tsunami, triggered by an 8.3 earthquake, in Samoa. My heart leapt, hands began to shake and tears blurred vision as I pushed the on button on the computer.

As some of you know Samoa was our first expat posting and one we all found very hard to leave. We still have friends we keep regular contact with on the islands, our email address remains 'gone2samoa' and I still think of its aqua blue seas, picturesque bent palms and smiling people on a daily basis. Googling news websites offered only patchy information so I wrote messages on peoples facebook pages in the hope at least someone would still have access. As the day has gone by I am slowly hearing from people and piecing news together thanks to the internet. As news sites and the BBC get pictures and reports the death toll rises. Stories of survival and heroic acts remind me of Aceh January 2004. It has been 5 and a half years and fishermen still refuse to go into the water, people are still in recovery- will Samoa be the same.

The well established tsunami warning system apparently triggered as it was supposed to but the earthquake was too close. The wave energy, created by the strong tremor, travels at several hundred kilometers an hour. Four huge waves reached the shore in minutes. Samoan villages sit right on the water with often only a paved road and a string of palm trees between fales and the sea, many people just could not get away in time.

On the two islands of Samoa, Savai'i and Upolu, 140 people have been convirmed dead, up to 15000 people have been made homeless and 50 villages along the south and south east coasts have been reduced to rubble.

Beach fales on the south coast of Samoa

The pier at Sinalei

(photo from


Natalie said...

Our hearts ache for the Samoans and their beautiful home. All we can hope is that they have each other and that your friends made it though OK. Thank you for posting these photographs...they really speak to what might be lost.

Leone said...

unbelievable sad for everyone involved and effected.

Thanks for posting.

Connie said...

It is a terrifying thought of how fragile life is, against the power of the sea. My prayers are with the people of Samoa.