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Tavita Tusitala

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Another quake rattles nerves, sends residents to higher ground
« on: October 20, 2009, 09:20:51 AM »
Another quake rattles nerves, sends residents uphill, but no tsunami generated

An earthquake yesterday with a magnitude of 6.2 which lasted several seconds rattled the nerves of local residents and prompted the evacuation of the Executive Office Building and other nearby businesses in Utulei. It also prompted lawmakers to call for a hearing on territorial emergency plans The quake occurred at 11:49 a.m., local time and was located 120 miles southwest of Pago Pago and 132 miles south of Apia, Samoa, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

No tsunami advisory or warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawai’i, saying the quake was not strong enough to generate a tsunami, but the earthquake was strong enough that many residents in the territory felt the tremor.

Soon after the quake occurred, Samoa News witnessed workers at the Port Administration and the harbor leaving the facility. In Utulei, government workers at the A.P. Lutali Executive Building and nearby businesses, along with Samoana High School, started evacuating to higher ground.

Other people— including workers— were standing in the open area between the EOB and the Centennial Building.

In Fagatogo, people were outside of businesses and everyone kept their eyes to the ocean.

Other shoreline schools were also evacuated to higher grounds and more than an hour later, Emergency Operation Center spokesperson Betty Ah Soon announced that the EOC had been informed by federal officials that no tsunami was generated by the quake and for students to return to their schools, where school buses were waiting to take them home.

Ah Soon also said Masefau Elementary School, which has been closed since the Sept. 29 disaster will re-open today, and for students to return to their classrooms.

Registration for federal assistance at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the Lee Auditorium did not appear to be fazed by the quake as people were still standing in line, while others rushed across the street to enter their cars and drive away, creating more traffic on the road in the town area.

It was after 11:30 a.m. yesterday that House members were into a meeting at COS Samoa Packing cannery plant prior to their planned tour of the facility.  Although the meeting got underway, the tour of the facility was canceled for now.

Since the Sept. 29 magnitude 8.3 earthquake, there have been several other quakes occurring in the Samoan Island region, with the majority under 6.0 magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Prior to yesterday’s tremor, another quake, of 5.8 magnitude occurred around 8:41 p.m. Sunday and was located about 135 miles southwest of Apia with the epi-center much closer to Tonga— 65 miles northeast of Hihifo, Tonga.

Earlier in the day during the House session, Rep. Maugaoali’i S. Anoai suggested the House conduct a hearing on the emergency responses by American Samoa to a disaster such as last month’s tsunami.

Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai said he believes a hearing is needed in order for the House to find out more information on the emergency plans for American Samoa. He said an island wide alarm system could have saved more lives during the Sept. 29 disaster.

While residents are able to get advance warning and take security measures when a hurricane is approaching, a tsunami is a whole different story, said Taotasi, who noted that it appears the federal government has started unfreezing homeland security funds for American Samoa to help for this purpose.

Other House members supported a hearing, which has been left up to Maugaoali’i, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee to arrange.

When the hearing was raised during Saturday’s session, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale told lawmakers the special session called by the governor has specific issues and this matter was not on the agenda.

Yesterday’s House session was led by House Vice Speaker Laolagi F.S. Vaeao.
http://www.samoanews.com/viewstory.php?storyid=10005&edition=1256032800

 


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