Thursday, 8 October 2009 8:43 AM

USP Provides Counseling for Students after Last Week's Tsunami

The University of the South Pacific (USP) is providing counseling support for its students from Samoa and Tonga after the tsunami that devastated parts of the island nations last week.

According to Fiji Times Online, Samoan and Tongan students at the University 'have been given an overwhelming amount of support from the university community after last week's tsunami swept through coastal villages'.

USP student counsellor Mary Montu said some Samoan and Tongan students have sought counselling since the tragedy.

"Everyone at the university is engaged in helping the students and everyone is open to supporting them," Ms Montu said.

"There are only a few students who have gone back home because their families were greatly affected.

"There have been fundraisings and everyone has been hands-on since the tragedy, right from the vice-chancellor."

Ms Montu said some students were focussed on getting their semester examinations over with so they could return home.

She said students who had distant relatives affected in Samoa were concentrating on their studies while those who have immediate family members had returned.

"Some of these students who have returned will continue to their exams at the USP Alafua Campus in Samoa," she said.

In a statement, Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra said student learning support would continue to be provided to them until the completion of the academic semester.


Meanwhile, Samoa is preparing itself for a mass funeral for the victims of the tragedy, the number of which has exceeded 100 while search is continuing.

According to Australia Network News, the death toll from the tsunami stands at 178, with at least 137 killed in Samoa, 32 in American Samoa, and nine in Tonga.

According to the report, a specialist search diving team is continuing to look for bodies off Samoa's southern coast and at least eight people are still missing, and five New Zealand Navy divers are searching the shallow reefs around Lalomanu for any signs of their remains.

But chief search diver, Simon Marston, has told New Zealand's TV 3 the beach line is 14 kilometres long.

"It is a grim task. But you know, maybe a good outcome is that we can reunite these people with their families."