Powerful earthquake strikes Samoa

Updated on Sept. 30:

A tsunami spawned by Tuesday's earthquake, which struck in the Pacific Ocean between American Samoa and Samoa, swept across the islands on Tuesday, local authorities reported Wednesday. Authorities in the region are reporting that the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami has risen to at least 111 people, including 22 people in American Samoa, 82 people in Samoa and seven in Tonga, according to a report by CNN.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled the regional tsunami warning late Tuesday, and cancelled a tsunami watch for the Hawaiian islands on Wednesday.

Original story posted Sept. 29:

A magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck the Samoan islands at 6:48 a.m. local time Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake generated three tsunami waves, the largest of which is about a meter and a half above sea level, according to NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The Center has issued a tsunami warning for several South Pacific islands, including American Samoa, Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

The Tonga region is one of the most tectonically active in the world, with the Pacific Plate converging with and subducting beneath the Australia Plate, forming the Tonga trench. Tuesday’s earthquake was likely a normal fault rupture that occurred near the northern end of a 3,000-kilometer-long segment of the plate boundary, according to USGS.

Carolyn Gramling
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 12:30