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(CNN) — A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the Pacific near American Samoa, triggering towering tsunami waves that gushed over the island and leaving at least 22 people dead.

American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono, speaking from Hawaii, said Tuesday’s quake ranked “right up there with some of the worst” disasters on the island. He said about 50 people had been treated for injuries so far but he expected that number to rise.

The quake hit the small cluster of South Pacific islands early Tuesday morning. By evening, Laumoli, standing outside the LBJ Tropical Medican Center morgue in the capital of Pago Pago, confirmed 22 deaths.

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