Sep 29, 2009 7:49 PM by Associated Press

Earthquake, tsunami hit South Pacific

Update: NBC News reports that the death toll is at least 40 following a massive earthquake and tsunami in the South Pacific near Samoa.

A visitor says a beach village has been "wiped out" on the island of Samoa, after a powerful earthquake sent a tsunami ashore.

The quake, with a magnitude of up to 8.3, struck in the South Pacific between Samoa and American Samoa, sending residents fleeing for higher ground.

A man from New Zealand tells a radio station that there's "not a building standing" in the devastated village. Graeme Ansell says everyone climbed hills to get out of harm's way -- and a member of his group has a broken leg.

A five-foot tsunami wave swept into Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, shortly after the quake. It sent sea water surging inland about 100 yards before receding. Power outages are reported, and phone lines are jammed.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck 20 miles below the ocean floor.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center put the magnitude at 8.3 and issued a general alert for the South Pacific. Hawaii is under a tsunami watch, with five emergency centers opened as a precaution.


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