Aid reaches tsunami-hit Samoans
Relief operation under way as Pacific islands' death toll rises, with hundreds still missing.
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2009 13:41
Officials in Samoa expect the death toll from the tsunami to rise as more areas are searched [AFP]

Military transport aircraft have brought medical personnel, food, water and medicine to Samoa and American Samoa, the Pacific islands devastated by a tsunami.

The death toll stood at around 120 on Thursday, but officials said it was rising, with hundreds still missing.

Police and aid workers continued to search for bodies as survivors emerged from the muck of the series of tsunamis - triggered by an undersea earthquake in the South Pacific - that struck the islands on Tuesday.

Among the hardest hit areas was the southeast coast of Samoa, where the authorities reported that several tourist resorts had been wiped out.

Dr Ben Makalavea from Samoa's main hospital said he needed nurses, doctors, surgeons and blood to treat the increasing number of people with broken bones and cuts.

Thousands homeless

International Committee of the Red Cross workers were providing food, clothes and water to thousands of homeless now camping in the wooded hills above the coast.

Australian officials said they would send an air force jet carrying 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid, as well as aid officials and medical personnel, to Samoa.

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The country's foreign affairs department said three Australians were among the dead.

In American Samoa, officials said about 2,200 people were in seven shelters across the island where at least 30 people had been killed.

"We still have people out on search and rescue missions and we have 27 deaths so far confirmed. We have 2,488 displaced residents in relief shelters," Betty Ahsoon, a spokesperson for the American Samoa homeland security, told AFP news agency.

An aircraft filled with aid flew from Hawaii to the capital, Pago Pago, where debris had been cleared from runways.

New Zealand has provided one million New Zealand dollars ($710,000) in immediate
aid to Samoa, Tonga and the Samoan Red Cross.

'Long haul'

Bill English, the acting prime minister, said it was the first "of a long haul for ... New
Zealand ... providing resources.''

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Extensive damage was reported in American Samoa's capital, Pago Pago

"Right now, the focus is on medical and other critical humanitarian aid to ensure survivors are cared for, and basic needs such as shelter, food and water are met," Murray McCully, New Zealand's foreign minister, said.

Officials on the island of Tonga said that seven people had been confirmed killed on the northern island of Niuas, and four critically injured people had been flown out for treatment.

Two of the island's three villages were destroyed.

Aid workers expect an increase in the death toll as they reach more villages and as the bodies of people swept out to sea rise to the surface.

Al Jazeera and agencies
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