A brave-hearted Irish couple have signed up to help the rescue effort in Samoa where a tourist paradise was destroyed within minutes by four devastating tsunamis.

Galway couple John Clancy and Madeleine Rabbit, who moved to Samoa just a few weeks ago, are now working with the rescue effort on the island which was hit by an earthquake Tuesday and then the tsunamis.

The couple are based on the main island of Upolu and live near the capital Apia which is in the northern part of the island.

Clancy works for Digicel Pacific, which is part of Denis O'Brien's global Digicel Group, while Rabbit is a nurse.

They said there was widespread chaos and devastation on the southern part of Upolo while the northern part was relatively spared.

Clancy said he had just arrived at work in the capital Apia when he heard about the tsunami alert on the radio.

“I had just arrived at work and myself and a couple of guys travelled to the south side in jeeps with food and water, but we didn’t anticipate the devastation that we witnessed when we got there,” Clancy told Galway Bay FM Radio.

The tsunami sent waves up to 20 feet high onto the beach on Upolu and a British toddler is known to have been swept out to sea.

His distraught parents were unable to hang on to him as they were pulled out to sea by the raging torrents.

Resort owner Paul Robertson said entire communities were destroyed by 20ft waves which hit so quickly that people were unable to flee.

He said: "There was no warning and nowhere to run to.

"People had no chance. It was all over in minutes."

Several homes and businesses were wiped out including a surf resort belonging to an Irish family; Triona O'Neill, husband Nick and son Eoin, who are from Limerick.

Less than 200,000 people live on Upolu  and at least 110 people have now been confirmed dead  in Samoa.

Rescue officials warn that the death toll from Tuesday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami could go much higher as rescue workers like Clancy and Rabbit reach the outlying areas.

A second earthquake hit the area again today and doctors fear for the worst as the main hospital's mortuary is already full.