18 Jan 2016

Thousands affected by Samoa market destruction

9:12 pm on 18 January 2016

Samoa's prime minister has called for a full investigation into the cause of the fire which destroyed the local flea market in the capital, Apia.

It's estimated thousands of people will be affected by the destruction of Savalalo Market, which was burned to the ground on Saturday evening.

Fire destroys Savalalo Market In Samoa capital Apia

Fire destroys Savalalo Market In Samoa capital Apia Photo: Peta Siulepa

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says many families have been affected by the fire and his government is looking into ways that it can help affected families to recover.

The editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata'afā Keni Lesa, says several sources say the fire started in the food hall when one of the gas bottles went off, creating a domino effect.

He says the markets is one of the most visited places in Samoa for tourists, and its a big blow for the families who rely on it for income.

"At this stage I don't have the number of stalls, but I can tell you it's probably close to a hundred small businesses in there. We're talking about individual families. And there's thousands of thousands of lives depending on this market. You're not just talking about the shops, you're not just talking about the restaurants in there, you're talking about the souvenir shops, the guys out in the village who carve the handicrafts for the markets for the tourists, and all that stuff just went up in smoke."

Mata'afā Keni Lesa says he's spoken to one family who had just restocked their shop with five thousand dollars worth of goods, which was all lost in the fire.

Fire at the flea market in Samoa's capital, Apia.

Fire at the flea market in Samoa's capital, Apia. Photo: Twitter/ kionafeni