Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:22 UK

Eyewitness: Pacific tsunami

Car through a window in Samoa (image courtesy of Alden P. Tagarino, Wildlife Biologist)
Biologist Alden P Tagarino took this picture in Pago Pago, American Samoa

A tsunami in the South Pacific has caused widespread destruction in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Here residents and emergency service personnel speak of their experiences.

IAN COOPER, owner of a diving business in the south of Upolu island, Samoa

"I drove over the hill and saw the place where my business used to be, and basically my boat is sitting on top of the hotel next door and it's a disaster zone.

There's just mess everywhere, the ocean is full of debris…. It's actually destroyed the resort next door, there's basically just concrete slabs left."

Ian Cooper was speaking to the BBC World Service's World Update programme

KERRI RITCHIE, a correspondent for the Australian broadcaster, ABC in Samoa

"All I know is that a lot of the resorts in the remote areas where people like to get away from it all - those resorts are gone, particularly on the east coast and south coast of Samoa.

Beach huts are gone, a whole brand-new hospital has just vanished. It just went into the water."

Kerrie Ritchie was speaking to the BBC World Service's World Update programme

FAALUA TAUAI, in Tafuna, a village on the east coast of Tutuila Island in American Samoa

"When I was in the shower, my whole house was shaking, so I ran outside right away. Right in front of my house there's a road and I saw cars shaking - that's how heavy the earthquake was.

My family was in the house with me - we thought the roof was going to fall. Then I heard on the radio that the tsunami had hit villages in my island. About three to four villages got flooded - the ocean came right onto the road."

Faalua Tauai was speaking to the BBC World Service's World Today programme

GRAHAM ANSELL, a New Zealand tourist in the Samoan beach village of Sau Sau

"We need some help around here. The whole village has been wiped out. We're at a place call Sau Sau beach, in fales [traditional beach huts], but I guess the whole south-east coast has been wiped out - just completely wiped out. There's not a building standing.

We've all clambered up hills and one of our party's got a broken leg. Our party's OK, but we just need help. There will be people in a great lot of need around here. It's flattened, it's just flattened. It was very quick and it's flattened."

Graham Ansell was speaking to Radio New Zealand

ALDEN TAGARINO, marine biologist in Pago Pago, American Samoa

"Debris everywhere, you know, wrecked cars on the side of the road, boats inland, also beside the road, shops have been torn down. It's basically a mess with debris everywhere in Pago Pago."

Alden Tagarino was speaking to the BBC

OLGA KEIL, a journalist based with Radio Polynesia in Western Samoa

"Our fire services gave out a warning about 10 minutes after the initial earthquake. The emergency services kicked in, all the church bells started ringing in the village, and the good thing is that we've had tsunami drills in the past so we basically knew exactly where to go and the designated areas where we had to go to in the hills.

So everyone was told to leave, stop what they're doing and out and up to the hills."

Olga Keil was speaking to the BBC World Service

TASATOLO TAUGI, student at American Samoa Community College

"The roads are blocked, I mean cut in half. Some of the parts of the road are in the ocean, some cars in the ocean too."

Tasatolo Taugi was speaking to APTN

CHRIS SOLOMONA, tour operator on Samoa's largest island, Savai'i
Car through a window in Samoa (image courtesy of Alden P. Tagarino, Wildlife Biologist)
Witnesses say some areas have been completely destroyed

"First of all, after a few - five, six -seconds, we thought it was going to stop, but then it just all of a sudden started getting stronger and stronger, so I just got up, got my wife up and since we've got four kids we had to drag everybody out.

But then as we were out it just kept on shaking and shaking, and it went on forever. But now we've just found out it took, like, 45 seconds and it was a very scary experience."

Chris Solomona was speaking to Radio New Zealand

THERESA FALALE DUSSEY, Samoan resident who has moved to higher ground

"There are lots of people here - old people, schoolchildren. They are all just sitting and waiting for what to do next, because we are still being told to wait because we haven't been hit yet in this area of town.

We just grabbed a couple of waters, put them in the car and came up here."

Theresa Falale Dussey was speaking to Radio New Zealand

FELOMINA NELSON, the principal disaster management officer in Samoa

"We evacuated people since the earthquake happened and the people have been really supportive. Each of the villages in Samoa have evacuated themselves. Emergency services are out and about providing assistance.

Of course we've got casualties at the moment but I do not have a confirmed number right now. There are also deaths."

Felomina Nelson was speaking to the BBC World Service's World Today programme

NINETTE SASS, head of the Samoa Hotel Association

"There really wasn't any [time], you know. I'm still very impressed with the way people managed to get all the guests out.

OK, there's quite a few casualties and there's some people who are still missing but the majority of the people were evacuated. There's nothing left. There's nothing left of the south coast."

Ninette Sass was speaking to Radio New Zealand

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