Thu, October 01, 2009
Lifestyle > Travel > Strong quake triggers tsunami in Samoa

Samoa Islands earthquake: latest travel advice

2009-10-01 08:03:40 GMT2009-10-01 16:03:40 (Beijing Time)

Buildings are reduced to rubble on American Samoa after tsunami waves swept ashore yesterday.

Paradise Beach on Upolu Island in Samoa. The low-lying islands are popular with tourists - despite their vulnerability to natural disasters

The Foreign Office (FCO) has issued an alert advising against all but essential travel to Samoa and American Samoa after an earthquake wreaked havoc on the islands, killing up to 100 and devastating resorts.

The islands, considered by many to be some of the most beautiful in the South Pacific, are home to around 250,000 people.

They were hit by a tsunami early on Wednesday morning (approximately 6pm UK time) triggered by an earthquake of between 8.0 and 8.3 on the Richter scale.

The advice preceded another big earthquake which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale and struck North West of Padang in Sumatra, Indonesia late this morning (GMT). Shaking could be felt in high buildings in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, several hundred miles away and in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued for the South Asian region, which for India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, has since been cancelled.

As yet, the FCO advice for travellers heading to Indonesia remains unchanged although general advice on earthquakes recommends visitors familiarise themselves with safety procedures in the event of another earthquake occurring, and take note of earthquake-related instructions e.g. in hotel rooms.

Indonesia, popular with holidaymakers who flock to sunshine destinations including the island of Bali, has been hit with two smaller earthquakes in recent weeks. The last rocked Bali on September 19th, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale and causing holidaymakers to flee their hotels in pursuit of safety.

90 per cent of the world's earthquakes and 81 per cent of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the 'Ring of Fire' which is a direct consequence of plate tectonics and the movement of collisions of crustal plates.

Nearly 300,000 people were killed on Boxing Day 2004 when the deadliest earthquake in history struck in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sumatra.

The two Samoan islands have grown in popularity with tourists in recent years despite their vulnerability to natural disasters. Both Samoa and American Samoa have experienced hurricanes, tropical cyclones and flooding, as well as the recent tsunami, in the last decade.

There is currently no resident British diplomatic Mission in Samoa.

Stephen Rogers, the British honorary consul on the island said: 'We have a number of British people who have lost all their possessions,' he said. 'We've also had calls from a number of Brits in different accommodation who are claiming to be OK.

But he also admitted: 'We've had calls from the UK about people we've got no information about.

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