6 Jan 2004

Samoa and American Samoa assess the damage caused by cyclone Heta

9:28 pm on 6 January 2004

A state of emergency has been declared in American Samoa after the territor was hit by tropical cyclone Heta.

The declaration paves the way for federal assistance for American Samoa if the US president declares the territory a disaster area.

Koro Vaka'uta reports.

"The Acting governor of American Samoa, Aitofele Sunia, says that the cyclone had peak gusts of more than 300 kilometres per hour at its core and 45 foot waves passed within 150 miles of the main island of Tutuila."

At the airport the terminal bulding lost part of its roofing, the Samoa Air hangar was ripped apart and the resturant and shops suffered window and ceiling damage.

However the LBJ Hospital reports that it has been a relatively quiet time in the Emergency Clinic, with the most serious injury being the treatment of a 13 year old boy who suffered electric shocks in Sailele village when he stepped on a live line.

All government offices and commerical banks in the territory are closed with workers told to stay home amd look after their families.

Meanwhile the Samoa Broadcasting Corporation is reporting extensive damage to homes and crops along costal villages near Apia.

The SBC says many large homes have lost their roofs, trees have fallen and roads are covered with debris.

However reports of a man being swept out to sea have been discounted by Samoan disaster officials.

Meanwhile the Samoa Head of State, Malietoa Tanumafili the 2nd has announced the cancellation of todays public holiday.

The holiday was set to commemorate Malietoa's 91st birthday but employees have been asked to report to work so that services are immediately available to the public.