President Obama Declares American Samoa a Major Disaster

He added that his own village of Lepa was among the villages wrecked by the tsunami. "Thankfully, the alarm sounded on the radio and gave people time to climb to higher ground," he said. "But not everyone escaped."

The Samoa Red Cross told the AP that about 15,000 people have been affected by the tsunami.

Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, a nonvoting delegate from American Samoa, said today that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has offered her condolences to the people of American Samoa.

In a statement released today, Pelosi said, "The thoughts of the entire Congress are with the people of American Samoa as they grapple with the terrible loss of life as a result of today's tsunami. As the island works to rebuild, all levels of the government, including Congress, will move quickly to address the needs of American Samoa and the Americans who live there."

Faleomavaega, Democrat, is now en route to Hawaii where he will board a military aircraft carrying aid to the affected areas in American Samoa.

"Given early reports," he said, "it is expected that there will be a significant number of casualties and fatalities and this is why I want to thank all those whose thoughts and prayers are with the people of American Samoa during this tragic time."

"We mourn with those who have lost loved ones, but our faith remains steady through the storm for we know that God has made it possible for families to be together forever."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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