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US to send relief workers to Pacific islands -

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ELEANOR HALL: We begin today with the death and destruction in the Pacific.

An earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale rocked the islands of Samoa and American Samoa
earlier this morning, triggering a series of tsunamis that swallowed up coastal communities.

Authorities have confirmed that the terrifying tidal surge killed 28 people across the islands, but
they say they fear the final toll could be as high as 100.

Australia's Foreign Minister says seven Australians on Samoa were injured and that he has grave
concerns about the welfare of one other Australian woman.

We'll bring you that interview in a moment but let's go first to the impact of the disaster on the
island communities.

Emily Bourke has this report on the situation in American Samoa.

EMILY BOURKE: The death toll from this morning's earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific is expected
to rise, but already it seems American Samoa might have been the hardest hit.

Five massive waves smashed into the island nation, just minutes after the massive earthquake
struck.

Witnesses have described scenes of utter devastation.

Faalua Tauai lives on the east coast of Tutuila Island.

FAALUA TAUAI: About three to four villages got destroyed by the tsunami. The ocean came, it flooded
all over, the ocean came right away, right on the road and then people got evacuated. They have to
go on high, like mountains, and we have a village on the mountain, there's about five villages on
the mountain, so that's where people are going.

EMILY BOURKE: The Pago Pago Airport has been closed but airport supervisor Dave Fuimaono was at
home when the earthquake struck.

DAVE FUIMAONO: It was pretty strong shaking and rattling at the house and then right after the
earthquake I can see all the coral on the ocean side. There were some rocks and there's corals that
usually we don't see but after the earthquake it seems like the water all went outwards and we can
see the coral on the ocean side.

EMILY BOURKE: Information out of American Samoa is sketchy, with communication lines severely
affected.

But the biggest fears are held for the villages on the eastern coast of Tutuila Island.

Patricia Tindall is the head of LBJ hospital in Pago Pago.

PATRICIA TINDALL: Coming into the main town area there's a lot of debris, it's very difficult to
pass by. We only have on main road so, you know, it's very difficult when it's covered in debris,
rock slides, mud slides, palm fronds and general debris blocking the roads.

So getting out to the outlying villages is very difficult, emergency medical services and
Department of Public Safety are busy trying to get out there. The eastern side of the island
appears to be harder hit and there's no provision of services on that side of the island.

EMILY BOURKE: Despite the magnitude of the quake and the tsunami, Patricia Tindall says the
hospital has not been overwhelmed.

PATRICIA TINDALL: Cuts and bruises, people are quite badly shaken, general trauma, pretty much
that's it. Most people are still in the villages working on a clean-up effort. There was a lot of
water and there's a lot of debris.

EMILY BOURKE: The immediate crisis may not be over.

Stanley Goosby is from the Pacific Disaster Centre in Hawaii. He says there are now fears of a
possible landslide.

STANLEY GOOSBY: That was always a concern, particularly on the island of Tutuila where most of the
population is located, is that that's basically a volcano mountain, so it's very, very steep slopes
and there's one road that surrounds, that goes around most of the island. And so if you have an
earthquake of this magnitude, it's a high probability that you would have landslides.

EMILY BOURKE: The United States is preparing to dispatch emergency workers and relief supplies to
the region.

Eni Faleomavaega is the Congressman for American Samoa. He's been in Washington today, but he's
heading home in the next couple of hours.

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA: Well I'm quite sure that all our businesses and areas where the downtown areas
have been - it's only two to three feet above sea level - when you have a 15 foot tidal wave you
can just imagine what happens to all the businesses in the areas that were in the downtown area was
severely impaired because of the, as a result of the tidal wave.

EMILY BOURKE: What contingencies and preparations are being made to respond to the emergency?

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA: We are having the full force of the Federal Emergency Management Organization out
of the US Government that will be coming down to help us.

EMILY BOURKE: That's FEMA?

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA: That's FEMA, that's correct.

EMILY BOURKE: Given the events with Hurricane Katrina, how optimistic are you about its level of
organisation and ability to respond?

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA: Well let me just say that we've learned our lesson in Katrina and I'm quite sure
we're already making preparations right now to send aircrafts to provide the necessary supplies -
food, equipment, whatever's needed. So I'd say in a matter of a day or two we'll be down there and
I'm trying to find a way myself down there as soon as possible.

EMILY BOURKE: Congressman, have you heard from your family today?

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA: I've heard from some of my family members, yes, yeah, but others still I have not
been able to make contact.

EMILY BOURKE: And what have they told you?

ENI FALEOMAVAEGA: Well everybody's in a state of shock. It's just unbelievable and something like
this has happened, the last known tidal wave as serious as this to my knowledge was since 1946 and
I was only three-years-old then but I've only known it from hearsay and what people older than me
have told me that the, it wasn't a hurricane but it was a tidal wave that came from nowhere and it
did a lot of damage and I suspect that this is probably the same kind that hit us this time.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Congressman for American Samoa, Eni Faleomavaega, speaking to Emily
Bourke.