Earthquake and Tsunami hit Samoa

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the Pacific near American Samoa, triggering towering tsunami waves that gushed over the island and leaving at least 22 people dead.

The tsunami wave hit right in the middle of the harbor of Pago Pago, the capital.

American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono, speaking from Hawaii, said Tuesday's quake ranked "right up there with some of the worst" disasters on the island. He said about 50 people had been treated for injuries so far but he expected that number to rise.

The quake hit the small cluster of South Pacific islands early Tuesday morning. By evening, Laumoli, standing outside the LBJ Tropical Medican Center morgue in the capital of Pago Pago, confirmed 22 deaths.

"I thought it was the end of the world," said Dr. Salamo Laumoli, director of health services. "I have never felt an earthquake like that before."

Laumoli feared more fatalities would turn up as rescue workers were still trying to access parts of the island severed by damaged infrastructure.

Officials in American Samoa say at least 14 people were killed when a tsunami swept ashore in the South Pacific country after a powerful earthquake hit nearby.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, says the deaths occurred in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila, with six in the western area of Leone.

An unspecified number of people also were killed in neighboring Samoa.

The eartquake had a magnitude of up to 8.3 as it struck between Samoa and American Samoa around dawn Tuesday, sending terrified residents fleeing for higher ground.