American Samoa's new emergency warning sirens sounded the full system-wide test alarms Thursday as the U.S. territory marked the second anniversary of the deadly 2009 tsunami spawned by an 8.7-magnitude earthquake.
"We will always remember Sept. 29, 2009 as the greatest natural disaster in the history of the Samoan people," said Gov. Togiola Tulafono. "As we honor and celebrate the lives of the victims who died on that unforgettable...morning two years ago, our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones and those who endured the terrible agony of the tidal wave that swept our shores, forever changing the lives of our people."
Thirty-four people in American Samoa and more than 100 in neighboring Samoa were killed.
Messages blared Thursday in Samoan and English informing residents of the test. Many have complained that if the system was in place in 2009, fewer people who have died.
More than a year ago, Milwaukee-based American Signal Corporation was awarded the $1.1 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"So far everything went well and our latest reports is that all sirens went off during the testing," said Vinnie Atofau, manager of the Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office. "But we are still gathering data and information from the field on public reactions to the test."
While there is no official government program for the tsunami anniversary, families who lost relatives were holding their own memorial services at their homes. The government in neighboring Samoa is hosting a memorial service on Sunday at the Tafaigata site where more than 10 victims are buried.