30 Sep 2011

Samoa church leader says tsunami victims won't be forgotten

9:14 am on 30 September 2011

A Church leader in Samoa says the sudden loss of life from the tsunami two years ago will always be remembered.

186 people died when the tsunami hit Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

The Secretary General of the Samoa Council of Churches, the Reverend Ma'auga Motu, says a ceremony will be held on Sunday to commemorate the dead.

He says the service, organised by church leaders and the government, will also mark the start of a week of prayer and fasting when mourners won't eat between midnight and noon each day until a feast on Friday.

The Reverend Motu says the church's focus is to offer compassion to locals and friends from outside Samoa who lost family members.

"The victims of the tsunami will never be removed from the memories and from the minds of our people. And their death was a very sudden ache in my country, it was a very sudden suffering that came into the country. And to take a hundred and more people, it's too much for us."

The Reverend Motu says the memorial service on Sunday will be held at the government's burial site at Tafaigata, while some villages will conduct their own ceremonies on Thursday to remember the people who died.

And flags are flying at half mast today in rememberance of the American Samoan victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

Governor Togiola Tulafono says today will always be remembered as the day of the greatest natural disaster in the history of the Samoan people.

He says thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones and those who endured the terrible agony of the tidal wave.

The governor also expressed thanks to the federal government and other organizations and governments.