The dramatic video was taken on the morning of Sept. 29 from a stationary security camera at the FBI office in Pago Pago. The video shows about a dozen cars, ranging from an SUV to a Volkswagen Beetle, being thrown around like whitewater rafts.
The two-minute clip also shows three people walking in the parking lot shortly before the wave struck. One man runs quickly in the opposite direction less than 30 seconds before the water enters the scene.
The FBI said because of its second-floor location at Pago Plaza, the office suffered only minimal damage. No agents were inside at the time. The building is located about 100 yards from the shoreline.
The water hit the parking lot at 7:14 a.m. in American Samoa, about 26 minutes after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake shook the South Pacific.
The time stamp on the video is in Hawaii Standard Time. Local time in American Samoa is one hour earlier.
At least 183 people were killed in the Sept. 29 tsunami, including 142 in Samoa. An additional 32 people were killed in American Samoa and nine in Tonga.
"As someone who lives on a Pacific island myself, it really brought home the level of destruction that a tsunami brings along with it," said FBI special agent Thomas Simon Jr. in Honolulu.
The video recently arrived at the FBI office in Honolulu, which oversees American Samoa and other U.S. territories in the Pacific. The FBI released it publicly because the bureau felt there was a public interest.