Pacific death toll rising 24 hours after quake, tsunami

Wellington  - More than 6,000 people were reported homeless Wednesday in South Pacific island states as the official death toll from the huge earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the region climbed past 110.

Authorities in Samoa, where at least 20 villages and several tourist resorts were wiped out, reported 83 confirmed deaths and said 3,000 people required shelter after every house on the southern coast of the main island Upolu was destroyed or badly damaged.

In neighbouring American Samoa, 24 people were confirmed dead and 1,700 left homeless after the capital Pago Pago was devastated, Radio New Zealand International reported.

Seven people were confirmed dead and three missing on Tonga's remote northern island of Niuatoputapu, where officials said 1,600 could be homeless.

Hundreds of people were reported injured, and doctors in the hospital at Samoa's capital Apia said they were running out of blood for transfusions. The Disaster Management Office in Samoa said many of those killed were children and elderly, and Radio New Zealand said Apia Hospital reported a 2-month-old baby and a 102-year-old woman among the dead.

Officials said that at least 32,000 people in the island nation had been affected one way or another by the disaster, sparked by a magnitude 8.0 undersea earthquake Tuesday morning.

Samoa and American Samoa lie just outside the international dateline, meaning it was already early Wednesday in nearby New Zealand and Australia when the tsunami struck Tuesday morning.

As aircraft carrying international aid from New Zealand, Australia and the United States began arriving in Apia, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said there was an urgent need for food, water, tents and tarpaulins for emergency shelter.

As searchers resumed efforts to find survivors at daybreak, there were heart-breaking reports of parents looking for missing children and tearful youngsters looking for their mothers and fathers.

Salamasina Taufua watched her three children - a 7-year-old boy and girls ages 4 and 3 - washed away by the tsunami as they played on the sand at the family's beach resort in Lalomanu, the New Zealand Herald reported, quoting her father, Ala Vena Ale.

He said his daughter was hospitalized in critical condition.

In the same village, which was flattened by the tsunami, Faletolu Senara Tiatia said 30 members of his extended family were dead or missing, The Press newspaper, Christchurch, reported.

Tiatia, who has lived in New Zealand for 25 years, said his family lived on the beach and would have had no chance to escape.

An official in American Samoa told Radio New Zealand that the entire capital of Pago Pago had been destroyed, including shops, businesses and homes.

The Red Cross set up tent camps for the homeless, and New Zealand sent a military transport plane with medical supplies and other emergency aid.

The US Coast Guard was reported sending a C-130 plane to American Samoa to deliver assistance and assess the damage, and the European Commission announced about 150,000 euros in initial emergency aid. (dpa)