Red Alert for Red Cross as strong quake and tsunami batters Samoa

Published: 30 September 2009 0:00 CET

A major quake and tsunami in the Pacific tests the resolve of the Red Cross as it strives to respond simultaneously to three major disasters, one in the Pacific and two others in Southeast Asia

Pacific Region – Red Cross Societies in Samoa and Tonga and the American Red Cross in American Samoa have played a vital role in humanitarian relief efforts following an early morning 8.3 magnitude earthquake and its resulting tsunami. They are being supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the New Zealand Red Cross and other partners in the region.

The Samoa Red Cross responded immediately, with 135 of its trained volunteers providing early warnings to those in coastal settlements to stay clear of beaches, supporting life saving evacuation efforts in and around Apia, and opening five temporary shelter sites, estimating that a total of 60 villages and between 10,000 and 15,000 people have been impacted by this emergency.

Volunteers are currently distributing clean water, first aid supplies, tarpaulins and other relief to impacted individuals and families. The National Society works closely with government through its national disaster coordinating group.

In Tonga, reports indicate that the Niuas Islands and several villages were flooded, with at least nine families directly impacted. The Tonga Red Cross has mobilized its volunteers to provide needed assistance and conduct further assessments.

The Pacific Regional Office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is supporting affected National Societies and discussions regarding the provision of emergency financial assistance are currently underway. The New Zealand Red Cross has deployed disaster response personnel to Samoa and emergency relief supplies will be mobilized on Thursday.

The Red Cross is watching the situation closely as there is a high likelihood of more severe weather or quake-related events around the corner. Emergency contingency funding will be released to the affected areas so that the national societies on the ground are fully equipped to deal with the situation as it evolves.

For more information, or to set up interviews please contact:

Tala Mauala, Secretary General, Samoa Red Cross Society
Tel:+685 777 3403
Aurelia Balpe, Head, Pacific Regional Office, IFRC Fiji
Tel:+679 999 2485
Jason Smith, Communications Manager, Kuala Lumpur
Tel:+60 12 387 0829
Paul Conneally, Media Manager, IFRC Geneva Tel: +41 79 3089809

For information on the response of the American Red Cross in American Samoa:

Jonathan Aiken, American Red Cross, in Washington, DC
Tel:+1 202 303 5551