Wales Rugby team encourages fans to help Samoa recover from tsunami
Tonight Wales take on Samoa at the Millennium Stadium. Wales head coach Warren Gatland urges fans to give generously to help rebuild Samoa, after it was struck by a tsunami earlier this year
Today I am asking for the powerful and fantastic support which inspires our players on the pitch to be used to help a worthy and desperately important cause on the other side of the world.
Please give generously to the Samoa Tsunami Relief Fund bucket collection which is taking place inside and outside the Millennium Stadium before, during and after tonightâ€™s international.
On the pitch the players from both sides will give 100% for their teams and their nations in a Test match battle which will be played with no quarter given.
But rugby is proud of its reputation for representing basic principles and values which will be epitomised when the teams shake hands after the final whistle.
Many of our team play their regional rugby alongside players whose families have been directly affected by that terrible disaster which struck their homeland on September 29.
We know that the Samoan players and coaches now visiting Wales share that hurt through the plight of friends and family.
None of us will forget the images of the disaster which happened when a tsunami wave from an undersea earthquake struck the islands in the Pacific.
A least 135 people are known to have died, with many victims being swept out to sea and lost for ever when the wave receded after causing its shoreline destruction.
Buildings were torn apart and communities washed away. The pictures flashed around the world show isolated tree stumps standing in shoreline wastelands where families once lived in beautiful towns and villages.
Right now the focus is on supplying food and shelter to the families left homeless by the wave and helping the injured recover.
But the government of Samoa has already estimated that the long-term project to rebuild the infrastructure of the island will cost much more than Â£150m. That figure could multiply dramatically when the full impact of the tsunami is assessed.
Here the Welsh Rugby Union acted quickly to announce a cash collection which will make a small but important contribution to the cause.
By writing this open letter I also hope to encourage people who are not attending the game to give what they can to this worthy cause.
The government of Samoa has very kindly thanked the WRU for acting decisively and showing our support at this difficult time.
We are grateful for that thanks, but our help is offered simply in the name of humanity and in the spirit of the bond of friendship Wales and Samoa share through rugby.
Our minds are focused on winning and I am certain that the Samoan squad are equally committed to achieving victory at the home of Welsh rugby.
The Samoan rugby team will come to Cardiff in determined mood and we must be equal to them on the pitch, but off the pitch we are also keen to offer help after the tragic events of the recent tsunami disaster.
We all take pride in the dignity of our sport and we must not fail to take this opportunity to add, in some small way, to the help being aimed at the relief efforts.
Our bucket collection is for the official Samoan government relief fund, but there are also many more agencies delivering vital help at this time.
Wales is known the world over for the pride and power of its support for our national sport and we know that energy can be utilised for good causes when the need exists.
Without apology, I repeat my plea to everyone attending the match at the Millennium Stadium: please give generously to the Samoa Tsunami Relief Fund bucket collection and make a difference.http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/11/13/help-samoa-recover-from-its-devastating-tsunami-wave-91466-25157005/
How the earthquake triggered devastation
On September 29, an earthquake of 8.3 magnitude triggered a tsunami which devastated villages along the southern coast of Samoa, as well as the northern islands of Tonga, and the southern coast of American Samoa.
The powerful earthquake triggered waves up to 20 feet high which swept across the islands. Within minutes and without warning, homes were submerged, cars were afloat, children were swept away with the tide, and loved ones were lost. Residents and tourists fled to higher ground as whole villages were destroyed.
The death toll reached an estimated 143 in Samoa, with five people still missing, 31 reported dead in American Samoa, and nine in Tonga. Five British nationals were rescued from the area. A two-year-old British child was among those confirmed dead.
A general tsunami warning was issued for the wider South Pacific region but was cancelled a few hours later.
Separately on Wednesday a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck a different fault line off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing at least 75 people.
Eni Faleomavaega, who represents American Samoa in the US Congress, said the waves had "literally wiped out all the low-lying areas in the Samoan islands". He said the tsunami had struck too quickly for a full evacuation.
Samoaâ€™s Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni said that the ocean had receded, heralding the oncoming tsunami "within five minutes" of the quake.
"With the location and the intensity... I donâ€™t know if anything better could have been done."
Officials at the Samoa Meteorology Division said many of those who died were killed by a second wave after they went to gather fish that had been washed up after the first.
The United Kingdom Government donated Â£100,000 to help victims.
The Samoa islands comprise two separate entities â€“ the nation of Samoa and American Samoa, a US territory. The total population is about 250,000. Samoa is located in a seismic zone call the "Ring of Fire" and has frequent earthquakes.