Samoa Travel Alerts and Warnings

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Tsunami - September 2009

Samoa and American Samoa were hit by a Tsunami in the early hours of Wednesday 30th September 2009. Several Tsunami waves up to 20 feet high, triggered by an earthquake with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, swept ashore on Samoa and neighboring American Samoa.

Reports stated that the death toll rose above 100 in Samoa and neighboring American Samoa and thousands were left homeless after the tsunami 'wiped out' entire villages in the region.

Australians were identified as having been amongst the injured. Reports also advised of wide spread destruction, with some villages entirely wiped out. The southern side of the island Upolu was the worst hit. There were reports of looting in Pago Pago. The Samoan capital Apia was evacuated and thousands of people were moved to higher ground.

About 20 minutes after the massive earthquake rocked the Samoan capital of Apia, towering waves hit the southern coast of the Upolo Island where many of the holiday resort are located. The water reached up to one mile inland. There were reports of hotels being hit hard by the tsunami.

Tonga also experienced damage following a four meter waves have caused damage in Tonga, but no casualties were reported.

Earthquake and Tsunami Safety Tips

If you feel another earthquake
Tsunamis are most often caused by earthquakes. Should you feel an earthquake that lasts for 20 seconds or longer or should the sea suddenly recede from the shoreline, do not wait for an official order to evacuate, move immediately to higher ground.

Remain on higher ground for several hours
As tsunamis consist of a series of waves, the first wave to arrive may not be the largest. Waves can arrive up to an hour apart, so do not presume that it is safe to return to low-lying areas once the first wave has subsided. Remain on higher ground for several hours after the first wave and only return to low-lying areas once these have been declared safe by the relevant authorities.

Attract attention
If possible, keep something bright such as a handkerchief on your person to attract the attention of search parties if necessary

How To Get Help

If you are injured or become ill please seek medical aid and contact your 24-hour Medical Assistance Service. WorldNomads policy holders can find these details on their Certificates of Insurance or log in to the members section.

The traveler should recognize that any functioning hospitals and clinics will be busy caring for people who have been injured and/or who are sick.

What if I get Diarrhea?
Gastroenteritis outbreaks can occur following a disaster. Diarrhea may be accompanied by a high fever or passing blood in the diarrhea. Replacing lost fluids by drinking clean water is important or the use of oral re-hydration solutions.

What can I eat or drink?

Natural disasters can disrupt water supplies and sewage systems. If bottled water is not available, water should be boiled or disinfected. For more information refer to the CDC's advice.

Food should be carefully chosen to reduce the risk of getting gastrointestinal illness. Avoid salads, uncooked vegetables and milk products, such as cheese. Ensure your food is freshly cooked and has not been sitting around. Food's that has been cooked and is still hot or fruit that has been washed in clean water and then peeled by the traveler personally are safer to eat.

Injuries
The risk of injury is high. Persons who anticipate the need to travel to disaster area should wear sturdy footwear to protect their feet from Injury. Tetanus is a potential health threat for cuts and grazes. Any wound, cut, or animal bites should be immediately cleansed with soap and clean water. Ensure you have been immunized for Tetanus in the past 5 years.

Environmental Hazards
Be aware of what is happening around you. Following a disaster there will be rapidly moving water. Lung infections may occur after inhalation of sea water. Disasters resulting in massive structural damage can also result in exposure to chemical or biological contaminants (e.g., asbestos).

The flood waters may have flushed a host of dangerous animals, such as snakes and scorpions, out of their normal environment. Remain vigilant to avoid coming into close contact with these animals.

Travelers' should be careful to avoid downed power lines. Battery-powered flashlights and lanterns, rather than candles, gas lanterns, or torches, should be used. Keep your personal belongings especially your passport and money on your person or in a safe place close to you.

Environmental things to remember
Both hot and cold extremes in temperature can pose a danger. Heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, can even be fatal. Remember to wear your sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat to protect you from the sun. Evenings can become cold so have a pullover or waterproof jacket available. Keep you fluid intake up with clean water during the day. This is all common-sense, but is even more important if you find yourself in the Tsunami affected area as finding medical help will be much more difficult.

If you become unwell within 6 weeks of returning with fever, rash, respiratory illness or any other unusual symptoms seek medical attention and tell them that you were recently in a disaster affected region.

Who Do I Call?

It is important to remember that the situation you are in can be extremely stressful.

Keeping an item of comfort nearby, such as a family photo, favorite music, or religious material, can often offer comfort in such situations.

Call home and your country's Consulate or Embassy to let them know where you are, if you are alright and if you need any assistance.

Wash your Hands

Wash your hands often using soap and water to help prevent the spread of disease. Waterless alcohol-based hand rubs may be used when soap and/or water is not available and hands are not visibly soiled.

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