Samoa bids farewell to tsunami victims

Friday, October 9, 2009

Samoa - More than 1 000 people gathered at Apia Park Stadium on Thursday afternoon to attend a national memorial service in Samoa for victims of last week's devastating tsunami.

After three trucks draped in tapa cloth and fine mats carried the caskets into the stadium, officers carried each casket covered in lace from the trucks and laid them out on a row.

The name of every person who died was read out during the service with a wreath laid for each of them.

The death toll of last week's tsunamis stood at 184, including 143 in Samoa, 32 in American Samoa and nine in Tonga. Six people in Samoa were still missing.

Thursday was declared one of national mourning and most businesses were closed. The country had a half-day national holiday.

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi gave the eulogy at the service which took place at 3pm on Thursday local time.

Eleven bodies were buried at a special site at the Tafaigata Cemetery following the service in the capital.