At least 149 people have been confirmed killed in the tsunamis that swept across the Pacific island nations of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, as the search for survivors goes on.


A disaster management official said at least 110 people had died on the island of Samoa, with 31 confirmed deaths in American Samoa.

A further seven people died in Tonga, around 1,000 kilometres from Samoa, as waves of between three and 7.5 metres high rolled across the Pacific.

“There are 110 people dead in Samoa so far, but we are still counting,” said a Samoan government official.

“There is a search and rescue operation under way right now and we are trying to recover those who are unfortunately still under the rubble or in the sea,” he said.

“We will make a formal statement on the latest toll later today.”

Four Australians among dead

Four Australians and one New Zealander with Australian permanent residency are among the dead.

Maree Ann Blacker, 50, from Tasmania, Ballarat teacher Vivien Hodgins, 55, a

six-year-old girl and a 15-month-old boy were all killed on Wednesday.

Six other Australians who had been unaccounted for in the wake of the disaster have now been traced, authorities say.

A string of tsunamis spread out across the South Pacific in the wake of a massive 8.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Samoa.

Food, medicine and temporary morgues are being sent to the islands after the giant waves flattened villages, swept people and houses out to sea and left residents fleeing to higher ground.

Australia, New Zealand and the United States made immediate pledges of assistance after the tsunami hit.

Aid supplies en route to islands

A chartered aircraft left Brisbane overnight for Samoa, with doctors and nurses from Queensland, NSW and South Australia on board.

The US has sent two disaster recovery teams to American Samoa.

A Defence Force Hercules was due to fly out of Richmond, northwest of Sydney, on Thursday, loaded with humanitarian supplies.

Rescue and recovery efforts are expected to stretch on for days, with widespread damage across Samoa.

“We are getting reports of missing people in areas where damage is extensive on the south and southeast coasts,” said local journalist Jona Tuiletufuga.

Villages washed out to sea

“Entire villages have been wiped out.”

Up to 70 villages stood in the way of the waves in the worst-hit area and each housed from 300-800 people, Tuiletufuga said.

Amateur video footage showed villages that had been completely obliterated, homes reduced to shards of metal and wood, while cars were stuck in treetops where they had been hurled by the force of the tsunami.

Apia, capital of Samoa, was evacuated as officials scrambled to get thousands of residents to higher ground.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported dozens of moderate aftershocks in the vicinity of the major quake, most recently a 5.4-magnitude quake that struck almost 20 hours later.