Latest updates: Tsunami disaster

We will keep you updated with all the latest news and developments following yesterday's earthquake and tsunami. Keep refreshing this page for updates.

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7:36pm - Habitat for Humanity is calling for New Zealand builders and tradespeople to volunteer to help in Samoa after this week's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Habitat has sent a disaster relief expert to Samoa to liaise with other aid agencies and assess the need for emergency and long term shelter.

Donations can be made at www.habitat.org.nz or 0800 44 22 48.

The international housing charity aided in rebuilding ten of thousands of homes in South Asia after the boxing day tsunami in 2004.

6:58pm - The health sector is mobilising to support recovery efforts in Samoa and volunteers are coming forward, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

The Samoan government has asked for orthopaedic surgeons, general surgeons, theatre nurses, anaesthetists and post-operative staff, he said today.

One Ministry of Health staff member was already in Samoa assessing medical needs.

Mr Ryall said the ministry's National Health Coordination Centre was working with district health boards to register the health professionals who were volunteering.

He wants volunteers, including those working in primary care, to contact their local DHB, call 09 263 1381, or email Incident.Controller@middlemore.co.nz.

6:33pm - Telecom customers will be refunded home phone calls to Samoa from midnight Tuesday until midnight Friday 2 October. Calls to Tonga will also be refunded from midnight Wednesday to midnight Friday.

Telecom will also credit customers for any calls made from their home phone to landlines or mobiles in the Philippines from midnight Friday 25th – midnight Tues 29 September. They ask calls be kept under five minutes so lines in Samoa, Tonga and the Philippines are not overloaded.

5:43pm - Orcon, Vodafone and 2degrees are all offering free calling to Samoa. Orcon's offer runs until Sunday, Vodafone's free calls are for two days from six tonight and 2degrees is offering free calls of up to five minutes for the next two weeks.

4:30pm - Looting is rife in American Samoa today, reports AFP. Thieves are roaming almost unimpeded through the streets as police search for bodies.

4:09pm - Murray McCully says he will talk to the Tongan government in the next few hours to discuss the situation and determine what help the New Zealand government can give.

He said that officials are satisfied that there have been no reports of any problems in the northern Cook Islands.

He had no further reports of any increase in the death toll of New Zealanders killed.

4:06pm - A boat carrying emergency supplies is due to arrive on the Tongan island of Toputapu at 6pm.

Prime Minister Feleti Vaka'uta Sevele's press secretary Lopeti Senituli said nine people have so far been confirmed dead on the island.

The island, with a population of 1000, is closer to Samoa than the main island of Tonga - Tongatapu.

Mr Senituli said three people are missing and four have serious injuries after three waves with an average height of six metres crashed into the island yesterday morning.

Mr Senituli said a plane managed to land on the island and take the seriously injured people to hospital.

"About 90 per cent of the housing has been destroyed," Mr Senituli said.

He said water, food and medical supplies are being taken in by boat today.

3:58pm - The Government will conduct a review of Civil Defence protocols as the response yesterday was "not good enough".

Civil Defence Minister John Carter said some agencies received confused warnings - or none at all - following the disaster.

3:22pm - An Australian Hercules will leave NZ later today with a New Zealand helicopter on it.

An RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft arrived in Samoa this morning, carrying aid, Red Cross and defence force personnel, medial and relief supplies including emergency shelters.

An Air Force Orion is continuing searches for missing people.

A contingent of New Zealand police has flown to Samoa on Air New Zealand.

In an update briefing on the situation in Tonga, he told reporters this afternoon, there are reports that in one town in Tonga, 95% of the town has been destroyed and he said he expects calls from the Tongan government for assistance. It was likely the death toll in Tonga would increase, he said.

3:15pm - Acting Prime Minister, Bill English, says $1m will be paid for immediate disaster relief and the money will go to respective governments and the Red Cross.

"We expect further funds," he said, "I emphasise this is just the beginning of a long haul for the NZ government providing resources."

He announced that Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, will travel to Samoa tomorrow and Prime Minister John Key will go to Apia on Sunday morning.

Key will be on the ground for 12 hours.

McCully said that so far 344 New Zealanders in Samoa have reported in as being safe.

3:09pm - With resources in Samoa in short supply, and so many people are in need, Pastor Willie Papu of the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mangere, says he is advising families not to travel to the islands.

2:42pm - Air New Zealand is adding an additional flight between Auckland and Samoa to assist the tsunami relief effort on Saturday.

General Manager Airline Operations David Morgan says the Boeing 767 will have the ability to carry 223 passengers and up to seven tonnes of cargo.

2:23pm - Resort owner Wendy Booth claims an early warning system failed as a tsunami hit Samoa.

Despite successful trials of the system it failed to work and text message warnings weren't received, she told AAP.

"The procedures were working great on paper but they've let us down and it's killed people," she said.

2:03pm - Labour MP Chris Carter says he will be "mucking in and helping with the clean-up" in Samoa.

Carter met informally with Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, who indicated shelter and food were important priorities.

"I'm urging New Zealanders to donate generously to organisations collecting to help fund the relief effort, Carter said.

"Everyone in Samoa is involved in the huge task of cleaning up in the wake of this disaster, but additional resources are sorely needed."

An official meeting with the PM will take place this afternoon.

1:32pm - Officials in Samoa hope to have a clearer idea as to just how many people have been killed in yesterday's devastating tsunami by mid-afternoon, reports Newstalk ZB.

Its National Disaster Council is meeting to try and get a handle on the situation.

Spokeswoman Filomena Neilson says one of the meeting's main focuses will be collating figures. They will be adding up the number of people confirmed dead or injured across the various villages.

They will also be discussing the number of people left homeless and begin the process of trying to set them up in accommodation for the short term.

1:18pm - New Zealand rugby fans will be given a chance to express their sympathy and support for victims of the Samoa Tsunami this weekend.

A moment's silence will be held prior to kick-off at all Air New Zealand Cup and Heartland Championship matches, as well as the women's national provincial championship final in Christchurch, as a mark of respect to the many people impacted by the tragedy.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is also working with provincial unions to organise collections at this weekend's matches so fans can make donations to help the relief efforts.

1:10pm - Cell phone companies 2degrees and Vodafone have launched special deals to allow free calls to the tsunami-hit islands. Read more

1:04pm - A school teacher in American Samoa has filed a graphic illustration of what happened in the tsunami to CNN's iReport.

"We watched from our front doors as, in a matter of 45 seconds to one minute, all the ocean water drained from the bay. We threw our lap tops and some clothes in a bag and dove head first into the last pick-up truck to leave town. We passed the bridge and accelerated up the mountain as the wave broke on the sea wall behind the truck. As we went up the mountain, we turned to see water rush over the sea wall and into the street and front yards."

11:53am - The UK press is reporting that a British toddler is among the dead, overwhelmed when the waves hit where his family was sitting on the beach.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm a British national is missing, presumed dead, after the Samoan tsunami." Sources told timesonline.co.uk the boy's parents, who are staying at the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa, had managed to swim to safety and raise the alarm.

11:50am - The Government has ordered a review after deeming New Zealand's response to yesterday's tsunami "not good enough". Read more

11:45am - Queensland has just dispatched a team of health professionals to help with the recovery.

A team of five doctors, four nurses, three paramedics and two special operation response teams flew out from Brisbane this morning. They are also carrying a 25-bed mobile hospital.

11:40am - The Samoan community in Brisbane is rallying to raise funds to hit the stricken islands after the devastating tsunami.

ABC radio is reporting a fundraising appeal is being started today.

It quotes Samoan community leader Peni Fenunuti saying: "We are going to collect donations from everybody not only the Samoan community anybody in Queensland to donate some money or whatever we try to collect anything clothes or whatever the people can help us."

11:31am - The Samoa Alive website is saying that Apia is unusually quiet today.

"Although today has not been declared a public holiday, the Apia town is relatively empty and most employees of the major businesses and government offices have stayed away from work today."

Comments from Samoans all around the world are being left on websites wishing their friends and colleagues well.

One person writes on Samoalivenews.com: "September 29, 2009 will be the day to remember in Samoan history. An unexpected devastated mother nature, earthquake and Tsunami that hit American Samoa and Western Samoa. We are all praying and wish for the best for all the Samoans."

Another writes:

"It seems to be very hard to get any information regarding the conditions in Samoa, especially from the smaller villages. One piece of information I have: my parents were able to talk to a friend in Matautu. His village has not been destroyed, everybody seems to be OK (kind of). The tsunami that destroyed the south part of Upolu so badly seem to have destroyed mainly the south eastern part, further to the west conditions must have been very different."

11:31 am - O le website a Samoa ua faasalalau mai ai,o Apia,I le taimi nei,ua matua,filemu lava.

E ui lava o le aso,e lei fa'asalalauina mai, o se aso malolo lautale,o le taulaga I Apia,ua matua gaogao lava, ma o le to'atele o tagata faigaluega I pisinisi ma le Malo,ua le o faigaluega I le aso.

O manatu ma tala mai I Samoa,mo le lalolagi aoao,ua maua lea I le website,fa'amanuia atu ai I 'Uo ma tagata ua masanisani atu iai.

Tasi tagata,na tusitusia,I le Samoaalivenews.com ia Setema aso 29,2009 ,fai mai o aso nei,I mea na tutupu I Samoa,ua fa'amaumauina I tala fa'asolopito a Samoa.O mea e lei taupulea e se isi,I le Natura o Tina,o Mafui"e,ma Sunami,ua lavea ai America Samoa ma Samoa I sisifo.Ia tatou tatalo pea,mo se manuia lautele o tagata Samoa uma.

Tusi mai le isi tagata:
E foliga mai I lenei taimi,e le faigofie,ona maua mai tala e fa'atatau tonu I mea ua maua ai Samoa,a'e maise lava nu'u laiti o Samoa.Tasi tala na 'ou maua,o 'ou matua,na talanoa I a matou "uo I Matautu. Fai mai ia, o lona Nu'u o lo'o lelei pea,ma isi o a'iga o lelei fo'i.O le Sunami,na fa'aleagaina le itu I Saute o Upolu,ma isi vaega o le itu I sauté,a o le itu I sisifo ma tua iina, atonu, masalo o lo'o lelei pea .

11:25am - The Government has indicated the death toll for tourists in Samoa could be higher in some areas because of a lack of warning about yesterday's tsunami. Read more

11:22am - A correspondent in Samoa says local TV carried full coverage last night on the devastated villages on the south side of Upolu, concentrating on the villages of Aleipata, Falealili and Siumu.

"The TV cameras have captured the full extent to which the famous Beach Fales at Lepa, Siufaga and Lalomanu have been completely flattened. The popular Lalomanu Beach Fales cannot be seen. The well known resorts of Salani Surf, Coconuts Beach and Sinalei have been extensively damaged and will take time to become fully operational again."

11.22am - O le tusitala,ma tala fou mai i Samoa,na lipotia mai I le TV ana po,o tala atoatoa o Nu'u ma Alalafaga, I le itu I sasa'e o Upolu,ua fa'aleagaina,a'e maise lava Nu'u nei ma itumalo e pei o Aleipata,Falealili ma Siumu.

O le TV na pu'eina ai ata atoa uma lava, o le fa'aleagaina o Fale matafaga lauiloa,tafafao faapitoa I Lepa,Siufaga ma Lalomanu,ua matua fa'atamaia lava,O le fale ta'utaua,matafaga lauiloa,I Lalomanu,ua matua le iloa lava se mea.

O le Tafaoga lauiloa I Salani Surf,o le matafaga o popo(Coconuts Beach) ma Sinalei ua matua fa'aleagaina lava,ma e tele lava ni taimi umi lava,e toe fa'aleleia ai.

10:28am - Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says there will be an initial Government funding contribution to meet immediate needs and then will look at longer term needs including what is needed for reconstruction in Samoa.

Deputy prime minister Bill English added: "We're in for the long haul with funding."

English said civil defence "generally did a good job" yesterday but there would be a de-brief.

He admitted that there was a "bit of confusion" which was "understandable" but he was generally happy with how it was handled and thought the system worked well.

He was not aware of a report that Wellington airport didn't know about the tsunami warning.

English said hospitals in Samoa had been overwhelmed.

10:28am - O Murray McCully o le Minisita o Foreign Affairs,fai mai,ua fuafuaina se fesoasoani muamua,o se seleni,ale Malo,mo se fesoasoani mo tagata (Samoan) ona toe vaavaai lea mo se fesoasoani mo le toe fausia o Samoa,mo le lumana'i.

Fai mai foi le Minisita o Bill English,"ua tatou fa'atasi ai mo se fesoasoani tautupe mo le taimi umi".

Fai mai foi Bill English, o le Civil defence,sa faia foi la latou galuega lelei,ananafi, ma toe faia foi seisi fono ise taimi mulimuli.

Fai mai a ia,sa iai se se nunumi,le manino,ise taimi,ma o lea la ua manino ma mamalama,ma ua fiafia foi o ia, ua manatu foi,ua iai ni fesoasoani, ua faataunu'uina ma faia loa.

Ae nate lei iloa, o le Malae Va'alele I Wellington, na latou le mautinoa apoapoaiga o le Sunami.

10:14am - Radio New Zealand reports that the Red Cross is planning to send tarpaulins, water containers and first aid kits to Samoa.

10:14am - a se fono,I le taeao nei,a ia, ma Niusipepa ma isi,na ia saunoa ai, e to'a 80 I latou I le taimi nei,a'e le'I matua manino ma iloa e ia,pe to'afia le aofa'I I se taimi o muamua.e le'I matua mautinoa I lenei taimi.

10:13am - Deputy prime minister Bill English says Air New Zealand has done a good job in increasing capacity and there are enough seats at this stage on commercial flights to meet the present demand.

He told a news conference this morning the official toll remains 80 and he would not want to speculate on the likely final toll.

10:12am - Reports say diggers are being sent to stricken areas to clean up the devestation created by yesterday's earthquake.

10:11am - Bill English says that as the scale of the disaster becomes clearer, the government expresses its sympathy to those affected.

The focus of the New Zealand government's assistance will be to provide for the immediate needs in Samoa.

The Orion will continue to search, the Hercules and an Australian Hercules will ferry goods over the next few days and the Canterbury is prepared for use.

The Samoan Cabinet is meeting today and will communicate its needs.
The NZ Government will decide today on what funding will be provided.

He says there are no further information about New Zealanders who have died.

"We encourage anyone who knows of any New Zealander in Samoa to report it."

10:00am - During the Samoan tragedy, social media site Twitter is continuing to show its unique way of capturing first-hand reports from people at the scene.

Throughout the last 24 hours, people in Samoa have managed to send out photos of the devestation or send brief accounts of what is happening.

Those seeking information about loved ones posted messages seeking any news and others expressed their condolences.

Here at nzherald we have been experiencing record growth in our Twitter feed with people from all around the world joining to share in the news and conversation about the tragedy.

Among those tweeting about the Samoan tragedy was a former New Zealand pro-wrestler known as Samoan Joe who told his readers: " My Auntie says the body count is in the hundreds. I was fortunate to learn my family had reached higher ground but the devastation is astounding. Thank you for the well wishes."

MP Winnie Laban who is in Samoa with Labour's Chris Carter is tweeting. She says: "Everyone is involved in the huge task of cleaning up but additional resources are needed. I'm urging New Zealanders to donate generously to organisations collecting to help fund the relief effort."

09:27am - A Raglan mother-of-three has been confirmed as one of the New Zealanders killed after yesterday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

55-year-old Mary Ann White was holidaying with her husband in Samona when the earthquake struck. Read more

08:50am - Radio New Zealand reports that most of the 20 villages on the southern side of the main island of Upolu in Samoa have been levelled, and roads and telecommunications have been badly damaged.

Dr Ben Matalavea from the main hospital in Apia told the station's Morning Report programme that medical facilities are under pressure, with a shortage of medical staff to treat the injured.

Matalavea says blood banks are also running low and many of the victims are expected to need surgery.

08:40am - BBC News online has published eyewitness accounts from two people - one a radio DJ and the other a writer - who share their experiences as tragey struck in American Samoa. Read more

08:37am - The Associated Press quotes a senior Samoan disaster official as saying the nation's death toll has risen to 119. The official said more bodies are expected to be recovered as searches resumed at dawn.

08:30am - A team of Army medics is scheduled to fly to Samoa today to join a civilian medical team that left New Zealand on an Air Force Hercules late last night as the death toll from the tsunami rises. Read more

08:11am - Two New Zealanders are dead and another presumed dead after the devastating Samoan earthquake and tsunami, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed today. Read more

- NZ Herald

How you can help

Pacific Cooperation Foundation

Deposits can be made at at any Westpac branch. All the money raised will go to the Samoan Government

Red Cross
- Make a secure online donation at www.redcross.org.nz
- Send cheques to the Samoan Red Cross Fund, PO Box 12140, Thorndon, Wellington 6144
- Call 0900 31 100 to make an automatic $20 donation
- Make a donation at any NZ Red Cross office

ANZ bank Make a donation at any ANZ bank branch, or donate directly to the ANZ appeal account: 01 1839 0143546 00

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