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At least seven killed, hundreds injured in Iran quake

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:31 am

At least seven people were killed in a 6.5-magnitude earthquake that jolted southeastern Iran on Monday, damaging buildings in outlying mountainous areas, the region’s governor said.

“Seven people have been killed and hundreds have been injured. Hundreds of people are still trapped under the rubbles,” Esmail Najjar, governor of Iran’s Kerman province, the center of the quake, told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

State television said at least three villages had been destroyed.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 6.3.

The official IRNA news agency said nine aftershocks had hit since the main quake, including one of magnitude 5. Telephone lines had been cut.

Mohammad Javad Kamyab, an employee of Kerman province governor’s office, told Reuters there were 30 villages in the quake-hit area.

“These villages are not heavily populated…We are not expecting a high death toll and so far 25 people have been injured,” he said.

Another local official said access to the damaged villages “was very difficult.”

“Rescue teams have been dispatched to the quake-hit area … and are communicating via walkie-talkies,” Hossein Baqeri, head of Iran’s National Crisis Management unit, told state television.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the quake was also felt in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Many people left their houses in the city of Zahedan … It was also felt in the towns of Bam, Khash and Iranshahr,” Fars reported.

Ali Reza, a resident of Bam, told Reuters by telephone: “There was no damage in the city of Bam but we felt the quake.”

The province of Kerman is highly prone to earthquakes. Some 31,000 people were killed when an earthquake razed Bam in 2003.

Kerman is not one of the oil-producing regions of Iran, the world’s fourth-biggest crude exporter. Iran is criss-crossed by major faultlines and is frequently hit by earthquakes.

In 2008 a magnitude 6.1 quake struck the southern port of Bandar Abbas, killing at least seven people and injuring 40.

An official in the governor’s office of Kerman province told Reuters by telephone: “The quake-hit area is a deserted area.”

State television, quoting an unnamed local Red Crescent official, said: “In some rural parts of the region … the quake has caused heavy damage to buildings, especially in Hosseinabad village, where the houses were made of earthen bricks.”

Source: SGGP

At least 135 dead from disease outbreak in Haiti

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

 An outbreak of severe diarrhea has killed at least 135 people in rural central Haiti and sickened hundreds more who overwhelmed a crowded hospital Thursday seeking treatment. Health workers suspected the disease is cholera, but were awaiting tests.

Hundreds of patients lay on blankets in a parking lot outside St. Nicholas hospital in the port city of St. Marc with IVs in their arms for rehydration. As rain began to fall in the afternoon, nurses rushed to carry them inside.

Doctors were testing for cholera, typhoid and other illnesses in the Caribbean nation’s deadliest outbreak since a January earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people.

People receive serum at the St. Nicholas hospital in Saint Marc, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.

Catherine Huck, deputy country director for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the Caribbean nation’s health ministry had recorded 135 deaths and more than 1,000 infected people.

“What we know is that people have diarrhea, and they are vomiting, and (they) can go quickly if they are not seen in time,” Huck said. She said doctors were still awaiting lab results to pinpoint the disease.

The president of the Haitian Medical Association, Claude Surena, said the cause appeared to be cholera, but added that had not been confirmed by the government.

“The concern is that it could go from one place to another place, and it could affect more people or move from one region to another one,” he said.

Cholera is a waterborne bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours. Treatment involves administering a salt and sugar-based rehydration serum.

The sick come from across the rural Artibonite region, which did not experience significant damage in the Jan. 12 quake but has absorbed thousands of refugees from the devastated capital 45 miles (70 kilometers) south of St. Marc.

Some patients said they drank water from a public canal, while others said they bought purified water. All complained of symptoms including fever, vomiting and severe diarrhea.

“I ran to the bathroom four times last night vomiting,” said 70-year-old Belismene Jean Baptiste.

Trucks loaded with medical supplies including rehydration salts were to be sent from Port-au-Prince to the hospital, said Jessica DuPlessis, an OCHA spokeswoman. Doctors at the hospital said they also needed more personnel to handle the flood of patients.

Elyneth Tranckil was among dozens of relatives standing outside the hospital gate as new patients arrived near death.

“Police have blocked the entry to the hospital, so I can’t get in to see my wife,” Tranckil said.

Aid groups were mobilizing to ship medicine, water filtration units and other relief supplies to the Artibonite region.

“We have been afraid of this since the earthquake,” said Robin Mahfood, president of Food for the Poor, which was preparing to airlift donations of antibiotics, oral dehydration salts and other supplies.

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued an advisory urging people to drink only bottled or boiled water and eat only food that has been thoroughly cooked.

Source: SGGP

China evacuates at least 160,000 as typhoon nears

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 at 11:52 am

BEIJING, Oct 21, 2010 (AFP) – China has evacuated at least 160,000 people from the projected path of Typhoon Megi, authorities said Thursday as they braced for the strongest northwest Pacific storm since 1990.

More than 150,000 people have been evacuated in Fujian province in China’s southeast and tens of thousands of fishing boats were called back to port, Xinhua news agency quoted the province’s flood control authorities as saying.

A handout photo taken on October 19, 2010 and released on October 21 by National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) shows a worker inspecting mangled electric pylons near Gamu and Isabela towns north of Manila, destroyed by Typhoon Megi. AFP

At least another 10,000 were evacuated in neighbouring Guangdong province, authorities there said.

Chinese authorities on Wednesday also halted rail services in some areas as they awaited Megi, which has already wreaked havoc in the Philippines, killing at least 27 people.

It is now making its way towards southern China, where it is expected to make landfall along the Guangdong-Fujian coast by the weekend.

“We expect that the strong winds and torrential rain brought by Megi will increase the probability of geological disasters happening in the south such as floods, land and mudslides,” the National Meteorological Centre said.

Source: SGGP

Congo: UN says at least 220 dead in oil explosion

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

A tanker truck hauling fuel on a rural eastern Congo highway overturned, gushing oil and exploding in a massive fireball that killed about 220 bystanders, including many who had been watching the World Cup in flimsy roadside shacks, officials and witnesses said Saturday.

The Red Cross said at least 61 children and 36 women were among the dead. Witnesses said dozens of people had descended on the truck to siphon fuel illegally from the wreckage with jerry-cans and plastic buckets, apparently unaware of the danger.

An inhabitant of the town of Sange, eastern Congo, walks past the burned out wreckage of a tanker truck Saturday, July 3, 2010, that was involved in a accident Friday night. .

U.N. peacekeepers rushed to evacuate more than 200 wounded from the scene by helicopter and ambulance, while Red Cross teams carried the charred bodies from the scene in body bags and buried them in two mass graves a few miles (kilometers) away.

The truck overturned as it was trying to pass a minibus late Friday near the village of Sange, around 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Uvira, a town on the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika near the Burundi border, said Mana Lungwe, manager of the Congolese oil company that owns the truck. The vehicle began gushing oil, then burst into flames an hour later.

Lungwe said the driver was injured in the accident and taken to a local clinic before the blast occurred. Sange is located between Uvira and the Congolese provincial capital, Bukavu, further to the north.

As oil began leaking from the damaged tanker, Pakistani peacekeepers from a nearby U.N. base “came and told people to get away from the area, but people refused to leave,” said Bedide Mwasha, a 45-year-old resident.

“Men, women and children, even (government) soldiers were stealing petrol,” Mwasha said, adding that when night fell, one woman lit a kerosene lamp that may have ignited the blaze.

In Sange on Saturday, the remains of the white tanker’s blackened carcass lay tipped on its side, its tires burnt off, one small flame still leaping from the outside of the wrecked fuel container. Along the side of the road a few yards (meters) away, the remains of three wood and brick shacks smoldered where hundreds of people had gathered to watch the World Cup. The explosion took place in between matches, as people were watching television and milling outside.

Congolese Red Cross workers wearing masks over their faces to ward off the stench of smoldering flesh carried corpses away on stretchers.

“It was so terrible, we lost so many family and friends,” said Umoja Ruzibira, 25, who was about 100 yards (meters) away when he heard a huge explosion and saw a fireball engulf thatch huts in a 20 yards (meters) radius. A teeming market nearby had also been reduced to ashes. “There were so many men, women and children around when it happened,” Ruzibira said.

James Reynolds, the deputy head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Congo, said at least 219 people died — 208 immediately, and another 11 from burn wounds after they were taken to surrounding medical facilities. The U.N. estimated the death toll at least 220, and a police chief in Sange, Flament Baliwa, put the toll at 232 dead.

“Many of the bodies were burnt far beyond recognition,” the Kinshasa-based Reynolds said. “It’s a terrible scene,” and a tragedy, he added, “for people who didn’t have very much to begin with.”

Desperately poor people in Congo — which is still struggling to recover from a 1998-2002 war — often descend quickly around damaged or disabled oil trucks leaking fuel on roads and highways, carting it away with plastic jugs, unaware of the danger of doing so.

Some of the worst tragedies have occurred in Nigeria, where thousands have died as crowds siphoned fuel from ruptured or pierced oil pipelines that subsequently exploded. In a separate accident Friday involving another fuel truck, an out-of-control gasoline tanker flipped over and exploded outside the gates of a local hospital in northern Nigeria, killing 14 people in an inferno in Gombe state.

Reynolds said the ICRC has dispatched medical supplies and body bags to collect the dead and help wounded alongside local volunteers for Congo’s Red Cross.

“We’re doing our best to ensure that the wounded are treated as well as possible,” Reynolds said. “The more lightly burned or less injured are being treated on the spot at a health center in Sange.”

Madnodje Mounoubai, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, said a U.N. helicopter evacuated 35 wounded to Bukavu. Other peacekeepers were taking more wounded to nearby hospitals by ambulance.

Reynolds said the casualty toll was likely high in part because, although the town was small, “it was densely populated, it was close to a market, and a lot of the houses are made with thatched roofing.”

After the truck flipped over and began gushing fuel, “a big crowd rapidly gathered around to see what happened,” Reynolds said. “And sometime after, the leaking oil caught fire and the fire spread extremely quickly.”

Mounoubai said the truck overturned around dusk and was carrying fuel from Bukavu to Uvira. Lungwe, the truck’s owner, said the tanker had begun its journey in the Kenyan city of Eldoret, then traveled through Uganda and Rwanda before heading into Congo.

The U.N.’s acting special representative to Congo, Leila Zerrougui, expressed condolences for the tragedy and said the U.N. “will do everything possible to help authorities and assist victims.”

Source: SGGP

Tijuana floods leave 10 missing; at least 1 dead

In World on January 22, 2010 at 10:45 am

Rains have unleashed heavy flooding in parts of the Mexican border city of Tijuana, killing a 5-year-old girl and leaving at least 10 other people missing, officials said Thursday.

Storms also caused a plane to skid off the runway Thursday in the Tijuana International Airport. Nobody was hurt.

Four days of storms have swelled the Rio Tijuana, which reaches the United States, sending torrents of water into some neighborhoods of the city across the border from San Diego.

A flash flood swept away a car with a pregnant woman and her three children inside in the hilly Canon de los Laureles neighborhood Wednesday night, the Baja California state prosecutors‘ office said in a statement. Police later found the car with the woman, unharmed, and her 5-year-old daughter dead. The two other children, 7 and 2, are missing.

Tijuana police officers stand guard on sand bags placed to prevent the police station from flooding in Tijuana, Mexico,

Tijuana fire chief Rafael Carroll said the children are among 10 people missing and feared swept away by floods.

At the airport, an Aeromexico flight originating in the northeastern city of Monterrey struggled to land and then skidded off the runway, its left wing ending up buried in the mud, said Baja California State Gov. Jose Guadalupe Osuna.

One passenger, Clara Martinez Gutierrez, said the plane circled the airport several times before trying to land. She said the plane jumped upon landing and passengers were told to get into emergency positions.

“The pilot controlled the plane well, but in the end the left wing ended up buried in the mud,” she said.

Meanwhile, an American citizen drowned Thursday morning when a huge wave swept him out to sea as he fished by the shore in the Migrino area of the southern part of the Baja California Peninsula, said local fire chief Gabriel Garcia Tinoco. The Mexican navy found the body of the California man at sea.

The area where the man drowned is known for rough seas, and his death appeared unrelated to the storms affecting the northern part of the peninsula.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

“World’s least known bird” found breeding in Afghanistan

In World on January 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm

 Researchers have found in Afghanistan the first known breeding area of the large-billed reed warbler, which was dubbed in 2007 as “the world’s least known bird species.”

Researchers for the Wildlife Conservation Society and Sweden’s Gothenburg University said they had found the breeding area in the remote and rugged Wakhan Corridor of north-eastern Afghanistan that has escaped the worst effects of war.

They used field observations, museum specimens, DNA sequencing, and the first known audio recording of the species to find the birds and verified the discovery by capturing and releasing almost 20 birds, the largest number ever recorded.

A preliminary paper on the finding appears in BirdingASIA, describing the discovery in Afghanistan as “a watershed moment” in the study of this bird.

This undated photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society shows a large-billed reed warbler

The first specimen of the large-billed reed warbler was discovered in India in 1867 but the second find was not until 2006 in Thailand.

“Practically nothing is known about this species, so this discovery of the breeding area represents a flood of new information on the large-billed reed warbler,” said Colin Poole of WCS’s Asia Program, in a statement.

“This new knowledge of the bird also indicates that the Wakhan Corridor still holds biological secrets and is critically important for future conservation efforts in Afghanistan.”

The find came after Robert Timmins from the WCS was conducting a survey of bird communities in the area.

The Wakhan Corridor has escaped the worst effects of the long years of war suffered elsewhere in Afghanistan since the December 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union. The corridor, populated primarily by Wakhi farmers and yurt-dwelling Kyrghyz herders, is also home to snow leopards and wild Marco Polo sheep.

Timmins heard a distinctive song coming from a small, olive-brown bird with a long bill which he taped and later discovered to be a large-billed reed warbler.

The following summer WCS researchers returned to the same area and used a recording of the song to bring out others and catch almost 20 birds for examination.

The WCS said it is currently the only organization conducting scientific conservation studies in Afghanistan, the first such efforts in over 30 years, and it has contributed to a number of conservation initiatives in tandem with the Afghan government.

It helped produce Afghanistan’s first list of protected species, an action that has led to a ban on hunting snow leopards, wolves, brown bears, and other species.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Big freeze kills at least 80 across Europe

In World on December 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm

The death toll from winter storms across Europe rose to at least 80 on Monday as transport chaos spread amid mounting anger over the three-day failure of Eurostar high-speed trains.

Airplanes standing on the snow-covered tarmac at the airport in Duesseldorf, western Germany. (AFP Photo)

With tens of thousands stranded by the cancellation of London-to-Paris trains and hundreds of flights across the continent, new accidents and mass power cuts added to the big freeze tumult.

A car veered off an icy road and knocked concrete onto rails, derailing a Paris commuter train and injuring 36 people, police said. Three hundred people had to be evacuated from the train.

Another train in the Croatian capital Zagreb hit a buffer injuring 52 people.

Croatian investigators blamed the minus 17 degrees Celsius (1.4 Fahrenheit) temperatures for a brake failure, national television reported. European temperatures as low as minus 33.6 degrees Celsius (minus 28.5 Fahrenheit) have been recorded in Bavaria.

In Poland, authorities said 42 people, many of them homeless, had died of cold over three days after temperatures plunged to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four Fahrenheit).

Ukraine reported 27 deaths while six people were killed in accidents in Germany and three in Austria.

France has reported at least two deaths of homeless people, and the national power company briefly cut electricity to two million people on Monday saying it was necessary to avoid an even bigger blackout amid surging demand.

More flights were cancelled in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain and main highways were blocked across Europe where some regions had more than 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow.

The breakdown of the Eurostar service under the Channel, linking London with Paris and Brussels, has symbolised Europe’s suffering.

After the nightmare of more than 2,000 people stuck in the tunnel when five trains broke down Friday, tens of thousands more people have missed trains cancelled since then, with Eurostar announcing a “restricted” service for Tuesday.

But those trains will only run for passengers originally due to travel Saturday or Sunday, with the remainder of the backlog to be cleared over the next few days. Normal service is not expected to resume before Christmas Day.

The French transport ministry has ordered an investigation into the breakdown, which Eurostar said has been caused by trains unable to handle the change from freezing temperatures outside to warm temperatures in the tunnel.

Eurostar said it had launched its own independent review.

The winter storms caused other disruption across Europe.

Air traffic was again badly hit as temperatures remained glacial: minus 20 degrees Celsius in Sibiu in Romania, where more than 50 centimetres of snow fell, and minus seven Celsius in Venice, Italy.

Seven hundred people spent the night on camp beds at Amsterdam-Schipol airport and more flights were cancelled after dozens were grounded Sunday.

The Dutch rail network was also badly hit with the railway company advising commuters to stay at home.

Heavy snowfall led to more delays and cancellations at Frankfurt and Duesseldorf airports in Germany, where more than 500 flights were cancelled or redirected on Sunday.

Twenty percent of flights out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle were cancelled Monday. The main RER commuter train line running east to west across the Paris region has been out of action for 12 days because of a strike.

Spanish civil aviation authorities said 174 flights from Madrid-Barajas airport were called off. Flights from Lisbon to Madrid were among those hit while main roads in northern Portugal were cut by snow.

Brussels airport also reported cancellations and delays.

After more snow falls on Moscow, authorities sent out 13,000 dump trucks to clear the streets as chronic traffic jams built up.

In Britain, more airport delays hit passengers while snow forced the postponement of Wigan’s English Premier League football match against Bolton Wanderers.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Philippine clan killed at least 200: rights chief

In World on December 9, 2009 at 1:35 pm

MANILA (AFP) – A Muslim clan accused of a political massacre last month killed at least 200 other people during its rule over a southern Philippine province, the nation’s human rights commissioner said on Wednesday.

An armored personnel carrier sits parked on a road in Tacurong, in Sultan Kudarat province next to the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao on December 8 (AFP photo)

“We are looking at a minimum of 200,” Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Leila de Lima told reporters, adding that the bodies were believed to be buried in mass graves scattered across Maguindanao province.

“These are victims of the same clan and the private armies.”

De Lima said there were witnesses to the killings who were only now feeling confident to speak out against the Ampatuan clan because its leaders had been arrested over the November 23 massacre of 57 people.

“Given the right opportunity there will be witnesses who can exactly pinpoint these mass graves,” she said.

Five police officers who had direct knowledge of some of the murders were among those now willing to speak out against the Ampatuans, according to de Lima.

Andal Ampatuan Snr, the patriarch of the clan, had been governor of Maguindanao and an ally of President Gloria Arroyo’s ruling coalition since 2001.

Police allege his son and namesake, a local mayor, of leading last month’s massacre to stop the challenge of a political rival in next year’s elections.

Andal Ampatuan Jnr has been charged with 25 counts of murder so far.

The government allowed the Ampatuans to run private armies as part of a strategy to contain a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency in Maguindanao and other parts of the southern Philippines.

But Arroyo turned against her former allies after the massacre, then declared martial law in Maguindanao on Friday night and accused the Ampatuans of rebellion.

Ampatuan Snr and other leaders were among 62 people arrested in martial law raids. Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera has said Ampatuan Snr will be charged with rebellion and possibly murder.

In a separate briefing on Wednesday, the nation’s police chief said at least 161 people were suspected of having directly participated in the massacre.

Police and army officers were among those who carried out the killings, National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa said.

Giving the most detailed official account of the massacre yet, other police officers told the briefing that 26 of the victims were women and 32 were journalists.

Some of the victims’ bodies had been mutilated with knives as well as shot, police said.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Central flashfloods leave at least 118 dead or missing

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2009 at 11:20 am

Typhoon Mirinae hit the central region on November 2, bringing heavy rains and floods that left 118 people dead and missing, 88 injured, and lots of house and road casualties.

Flood victims in Phuoc Nghia Commune, Binh Dinh Province, receive instant noodle from Sai Gon Giai Phong relief staff on November 5 (Photo: SGGP)

According to the Flood and Storm Prevention Center for the Central and Central Highlands regions, by November 5, over 60,130 houses were destroyed and inundated.
Storm-caused floodwaters caused heavy damage to nearly 600 classrooms, infirmaries and offices, ruined more than 30,000 hectares of rice and other crops, 913 hectares of aquaculture farms, and 2,111 farm rafts, and broke and sank 128 boats.
The storm has also caused loss of power and landslide, which has blocked many roads and isolated many areas.
The Vietnam Railways Corporation said by November 5, the typhoon ruined over 70 kilometers of railway in the central region, and it has spent VND26.5 billion ($1.47 million) repairing damaged rails at 25 locations so that trains can resume soon.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced Nov.5  the provision of a VND225 billion ($12.5 million) aid program and 10,000 tons of rice to victims in the central provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and the Central Highland province of Gia Lai.

Rail workers repair a broken stretch of railway in Dong Xuan District, Phu Yen Province (Photo: SGGP)

The Ministry of National Defense has assigned more than 4,000 staff and soldiers to help people evacuate, ensure security around inundated areas and clear traffic chaos.

Six helicopter providing relief aid have carried 25,000 tons of goods to residents of central Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces.
The Ministry of Health has sent 500,000 tablets of Cloramin B to sterilize water in flooded areas plus 100 life vests.
Ho Chi Minh City Red Cross, Sai Gon Giai Phong and other companies and organizations have also raised fund and provided aid for flood-hit people.
On the same day, Party Secretary General Nong Duc Manh visited Binh Dinh Province and asked the province to ensure food, drink and medicine for flood-stuck locals.
He said the Party pledged that State and local authorities will provide assistance to help the victims resume their normal lives soon.

The Party leader extended his sympathy to bereaved families and those who had seriously suffered from the destruction of typhoon Mirinae which has recently wreaked havoc in the central region.

Related articles:
Heavy rains, floods recede in Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam counts flood damage
At least 90 die in Vietnam floods: officials
35 dead, nine missing in central Vietnam floods
Typhoon Mirinae hits central Vietnam

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

At least 155 dead in Samoa tsunami: officials

In World on October 2, 2009 at 6:42 am

A tsunami that wiped out entire villages in Samoa has killed at least 155 people in the South Pacific, officials said Thursday, adding the toll could rise to as much as 190.

Some 115 people have been confirmed killed in Samoa, which was worst hit by the disaster, according to Guretti Wulf of the Samoa Red Cross. Another 31 are dead in nearby American Samoa and nine were killed in Tonga, officials said.

“There’s still (people) missing,” she told AFP. “They are still looking, searching for them. I don’t think anybody’s going to be found alive at this point.” The official toll stood at 110 on Wednesday.

Rescuers are seen wading through water looking for bodies after a devastating tsunami hit the south coast of Samoa.

But Samoan disaster officials said they feared that up to 150 people may have died, a toll that would bring the total number of dead in the region to 190.

The toll is expected to rise as more bodies are being recovered and some dead were buried before they could be counted, an official told AFP.Related article: Relief efforts

“The deaths are probably between 120 and 150 in reality, it’s definitely more than the official toll,” a senior figure in the disaster management office told AFP on condition on anonymity.

“We know there will be more because recovery operations are still bringing in bodies and some villagers have buried their relatives without recording their deaths at the hospital,” he said.

An 8.0 earthquake churned up walls of water measuring between three and 7.5 metres (10 and 25 feet) that thundered down on small coastal settlements on Tuesday, smashing them to bits.

Officials in American Samoa, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Samoa, said 31 had been killed in the remote US outpost, but that a 12-year-old Korean girl was missing following the disaster.

In Tonga, a government spokesman said two more people had been confirmed dead after the tsunami hit its small northern island of Niuatoputapu, bringing the total number of deaths there to nine.

“There are nine people confirmed dead,” he told AFP. “We are confident that everyone has been accounted for,” he added.

More than half of homes on the island, which has a population of about 950, were damaged by the waves with many washed away, he said.

A powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in seas off Tonga and the Samoan islands on Friday but no immediate tsunami alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii and Australian experts said the tremor was likely too small to create another deadly wave.

“I don’t think there is a particular tsunami danger from that earthquake,” Geoscience Australia seismologist Phil Cummins told AFP.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake, at a shallow depth of just 10 kilometres (six miles), struck 242 kilometres (151 miles) off Tonga‘s northwest island of Neiafu.

The epicentre was 377 kilometres from American Samoa capital Pago Pago, which was hard-hit by this week’s 8.0 earthquake and tsunami.

Dozens of aftershocks have rocked the region since giant waves smashed the South Pacific islands on Wednesday.

Source: SGGP