Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Earthquake and Tsunami in Samoa

September 30, 2009--As you may have heard, a severe earthquake measuring 8.3 on Richter Scale hit about 180 km southwest of Samoa/American Samoa at approximately 0600 local Fiji time this morning. Before long, Tsunami warnings were issued for most of the islands in the Pacific from New Zealand to French Polynesia in the south and Fiji to Kiribati in the north. We received the warning via high frequency radio from the New Zealand News Service and an alarm received via the Digital Selective Calling feature on our high frequency radio.

The epicenter of the earthquake was near the northern Tongan Island of Niutopotapu where we were last year. We are approximately 400 miles from the epicenter here in the northern islands of the Yasawa Group in Western Fiji. We did not feel the quake. At approximately 0630 local Fiji time we were listening to our morning radio net when the quake was reported. Over the course of the next few hours, we heard live reports from cruisers in Pago Pago, American Samoa, who reported water rushing out of the bay and then flooding back in washing many boats upon the beach. Severe damage to villages, industry, and the marine community was reported and a number of dead were reported also. Much of the damage was being attributed to the Tsunami, and the warning was changed to an imminent warning as far away as New Zealand - approximately 1500 miles.

We calculated that if the Tsunami moved at 100 mph then we would see the effects beginning around 1000 local time. Thankfully, we did not see any of the effects, and that was most likely due to the fact that we are well inside the Great Sea Reef which runs around the north and east of Fiji. Furthermore, the estimated time of arrival of the Tsunami here in Fiji corresponded to approximately a low tide. We have no way of getting local Fiji news so we do not know if Fiji was affected in other areas or to what magnitude it may have been affected. We just want to let you know that we DID NOT have any noticeable effects, and it appears that we will not. Unfortunately, that can not be said for other cruisers and Pacific Islands, and our prayers are with them!

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1 comment:

Anita and Ron said...

Linda and Steve,
thanks for posting this. we heard about the tsunami and immediately wondered if it would affect you. Very glad to hear it did not.