MOSCOW, September 30 (RIA Novosti) - The death toll from a tsunami that hit the remote Pacific islands of American and Western Samoa on Wednesday has risen to at least 99, with dozens of people missing, Taiwan News reported.
The 8.3-magnitude quake struck early in the morning around 120 miles (190 kilometers) from American Samoa, a U.S. territory. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the territory a major disaster area and ordered urgent support for rescue efforts.
Local radio in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, said five consecutive waves with a height of at least five meters (16.4 feet) hit the island destroying houses and cars, but that most residents managed to escape to higher ground.
The South Pacific is well known for its high seismic activity, registering 6,000-7,000 earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.0 or above annually.
Two earthquakes, each measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, struck off Bali and North Maluku on September 19, injuring at least seven people and causing many others to flee their homes in panic.
A 7.9-magnitude tremor in March caused a tsunami which hit the Tonga archipelago. No deaths or major damage were reported.
An earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people across Asia in December, 2004.