Aceh veterans standing by

TWO Northern Rivers veterans of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia say they are ready to help victims of yesterday's deadly tidal surge in the Pacific, which killed three Australians, including a 6-year-old girl.

A tsunami up to 7.5 metres high hit Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga early yesterday, wiping out entire villages and resort areas after a magnitude 8.3 earthquake between Samoa and American Samoa.

As of last night, the death toll from the disaster stood at about 120, but authorities expected that number to rise significantly.

Read more about the tsunami in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

A 6-year-old girl, a 55-year-old Ballarat woman, Vivien Hodgins, and a 50-year-old Tasmanian woman, Maree Blacker, have been found among the dead.

Australian authorities said they were also concerned about the safety of six other Australians. Another eight had been injured with three in hospital.

Lismore anaesthetists Brian Pezzutti, a brigadier in the Army Reserve, and David Scott, a wing-commander in the RAAF Specialist Reserve, yesterday said they were waiting to hear whether they would be needed on the islands hit by the surge.

Both men were part of the Australian Defence Force's relief effort in Aceh after the Indian Ocean tsunami and worked alongside volunteers from Medicins Sans Frontiers to help people injured in the disaster.

Samoan Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni said residents had only minutes to respond to the quake and the tsunami.

“With the location and the intensity ... I don't know if anything better could have been done,” Mr Telefoni said.

“People were saying that there was the shake and the ocean went out within five minutes, so that's pretty fast and that makes it extremely difficult.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia had military assets on standby, ready to help.

“We are awaiting final confirmation on what they need,” he said.

Read more about the tsunami in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.



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