National Weather Service Meteorologist Criticizes Tsunami Warnings in South Pacific

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Oct. 2 (UPI) — A National Weather Service meteorologist says more should have been done to warn South Pacific residents of an approaching tsunami that killed dozens.

Senior NWS meteorologist Mase Akapo in Pago Pago, American Samoa, told exclusively that if there had been tsunami sirens, residents in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga could have been warned about the recent tsunami that killed at least 150 people.

“We do need a siren. If we had a siren, we probably would have saved most of the people who had died because of the tsunami,” Akapo said.

Tuesday’s tsunami was caused by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake south of Pacific islands. Akapo said the speed of the tsunami following the earthquake was simply too quick to safely evacuate area residents.

“There was no time … when the earthquake occurred, it took only 15 minutes from the time when the earthquake hit and the time when the tsunami reached our islands,” Akapo told “It was so fast that (it was) very difficult to evacuate.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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