A tsunami has claimed lives in Samoa and American Samoa following an earthquake yesterday that caused tsunamis off the Samoan coast and a tsunami warning to be issued for the region this morning.

According to Radio New Zealand International, reports from American Samoa say that the earthquake, which happened yesterday morning, 'caused 14 deaths and left many injured'.

According to a report by Fili Sagapolutele for The Associated Press, a 'powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the South Pacific between Samoa and American Samoa around dawn Tuesday, sending terrified residents fleeing for higher ground as a tsunami swept ashore, flattening at least one village'.

The following excerpt is taken from the article:

New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need 'round here."

A tsunami swept into Pago Pago, capital of American Samoa, shortly after the earthquake, sending sea water surging inland about 100 yards (meters) before receding, leaving some cars stuck in mud.

The staff of the port ran to higher ground, and police soon came by, telling residents to get inland.

A tsunami warning had been issued for the region this morning but has now been called off although some countries are still being cautioned.

According to Fiji Times Online, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for American Samoa, Samoa, Niue, Wallis-Futuna, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Kermadec Island, Fiji, Howland-Baker, Jarvis Is, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Palmyra Island, Vanuatu, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.

The bulletin was issued as advice to government agencies. It said only national and local government agencies had the authority to make decision regarding the official state of alert in their area and any actions to be taken in response.

According to Radio New Zealand International, a 'warning is still in force in French Polynesia's Marquesas islands where a total of five main waves are expected' and the 'low-lying islands of Tuvalu also remain on alert for a possible tsunami'.

Also, according to the report, authorities in the Cook Islands, where the Pacific Mini Games is currently taking place, have stated that the tsunami has passed without any effects.

New Zealand says it stands ready to assist Samoa and the wider Pacific region following the earthquake.

Australia says some of its nationals in Samoa have been injured.

The epicenter of the quake was located 190 km southwest of American Samoa.

Please follow the link below to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.