This is an anxious time for those in the South Sound's large, close-knit Samoan and Pacific Islander community. That won't change until they are able to make contact with friends and loved ones on islands devastated by Tuesday's killer tsunami.
Many islanders died when four tsunami waves — each 15 to 20 feet high — struck about 20 minutes after an 8.0- to 8.3-magnitude earthquake south of the Samoan Islands. That's the strongest earthquake to strike the world in the last two years.
Reports of casualties are flooding in from Samoa, the American Samoa territory and Tonga. At this writing, the death toll is 119 and expected to rise.
Relief organizations racing to help the islanders are being stretched thin by two other Pacific Rim disasters: a typhoon that has ravaged the Philippines and an earthquake in Indonesia. They need Americans to show their concern in a tangible way — through their donations (see box). The Samoan disaster is expected to require weeks of relief aid, complicated by the distance from the United States — 2,300 miles from Hawaii, 4,500 miles from the West Coast.
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