Friday, October 2, 2009

Pinay confirmed dead in Samoan tsunami

A Filipino immigrant was among those killed by a destructive tsunami that hit the Samoa Islands in the South Pacific on Tuesday (before dawn Wednesday in Manila), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

DFA spokesperson Ed Malaya identified the Filipino victim as 62-year-old Godofreda Reambonza-Palma of Pago Pago town in American Samoa, a US territory that is home to 65,000 people.

Malaya said Palma was a native of Dipolog, a city in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte. She migrated as an entrepreneur to Samoa.

The DFA official said the victim had no other relative in the US territory and that the repatriation of her remains is being arranged by the Filipino community there.

Malaya said Palma's relatives in the Philippines were already informed of the incident.

News about the Filipino immigrant's death was first told to GMANews.TV on Thursday by Michelle Parungo, a resident of Samoa. According to her, the village that had the most damage were Pago Pago and Leone, which she said were "totally washed out."

"Thank God it was just 7 a.m. so most people were not at work/school yet and were able to evacuate," Parungo said in an e-mail.

An Associated Press report said enormous ocean waves caused by an earthquake swept the shores of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, flattening villages.

Samoan officials on Friday said the death toll rose to 169 and they were planning a mass funeral and burial on Oct. 6.

Of the dead, 129 were from Samoa, 31 from American Samoa and nine from Tonga.

According to a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-8 earthquake that occurred at 5:48 GMT Tuesday (6:48 a.m. Tuesday, Samoan time and 1:48 a.m. Wednesday, Manila time).

Convoys of military vehicles have brought food, water and medicine to the tsunami-stricken villages as victims wandered through what was left of their villages with tales of being trapped underwater, watching young children drown and hoisting elderly parents above the waves.

The quake struck at about 11 kilometers below the ocean floor. It was centered about 200 kilometers from Samoa, an island nation of 180,000 people located about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and about about 190 kilometers from neighboring American Samoa.

The DFA said there are some 2,000 Filipinos in American Samoa and 25 in Samoa.

On Friday, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck at local time about 242 kilometers north-northeast of Tonga, and 377 kilometers southwest of Pago Pago, said the USGS. No tsunami warning was issued. - GMANews.TV

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