Ten people were injured in a riot in a Pago Pago clothing factory amid claims that Samoans had been told they could beat up Asian workers, social workers told the Townsville Bulletin yesterday.

A Vietnamese woman in her early 20s lost an eye and a young man was hospitalised with multiple stab wounds following the riot at the Daewoosa Samoa clothing factory on Wednesday afternoon. Ten employees, all Vietnamese or Chinese, were taken to the hospital with a variety of injuries.

Details about the violence were sketchy, but according to affidavits signed by some of the Vietnamese workers who have sought refuge with the local Catholic church, Samoan employees at the factory started the riot.

According to the workers, Daewoosa's president Kil So Lee gave approval to Samoan supervisors to beat Asian workers if they did not obey instructions. This led to angry reaction from a group of Asian workers and the Samoan employees began attacking their counterparts with scissors, sticks and their bare fists.