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Press Release



Secretary Salazar and Assistant Secretary Babauta’s Statements on Earthquake and Tsunami Surges in American Samoa



09/29/2009

Contact: Frank Quimby
202-208-3280

WASAHINGTON, D.C. -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta expressed their deepest sympathies to the Governor and people of American Samoa following an earthquake and tsunami surges that have hit the U.S. Pacific Territory.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of American Samoa and all those in the region who have been affected by these natural disasters,” Secretary Salazar said. “Our Office of Insular Affairs has been in constant communications with our employees on Tutuila and we are working closely with the American Samoa Government and Federal Emergency Management Agency on the federal response effort to assist the islands.”

“We are doing everything we can to ensure the people of American Samoa receive the assistance they need to respond to this tragic event,” said Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta. “Our office will be providing as much information on the response and recovery efforts as soon as it becomes available.”

The magnitude 8.3 earthquake occurred about 100 miles southwest of American Samoa. It rocked the island at about 6:48 a.m. SST (1:48 p.m. EDT; 17:48 Zulu). The quake occurred approximately 33 kilometers below the seabed. Soon after, several tsunami flood surges came ashore, flooding low-lying villages, roads, homes, and other structures.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is the lead agency for coordinating the federal response, has been in touch with Governor Tulafono of American Samoa, is in constant contact with the territory’s emergency responders, and is closely monitoring the activities associated with the quake and tsunami events.

Earlier this evening, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, W. Craig Fugate issued the following statement:

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency has activated its National Response Coordination Center, as well as our Regional Response Coordination Center in Region IX, in order to support American Samoa as they respond to the earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Pacific Ocean. Working closely with the US Coast Guard, FEMA is deploying an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) as well as a Planning and Response Team (PRT) to American Samoa to provide support and on the ground assessment. FEMA, who has provisions pre-positioned in a distribution center in Hawaii, is also preparing to send supplies as needed. We remain in contact with the leadership of American Samoa and our federal partners and will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that there are no unmet needs in the territory or in other potentially impacted regions. As we take the steps necessary to address the situation, our thoughts and prayers are with the people in the affected communities that have been impacted by this event.”

For additional information, the media should contact FEMA at 202-646-3272.

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