No significant damage reported as tsunami reaches entire Hawaii Islands

11:27, March 12, 2011      

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No significant damages were reported across all Hawaiian islands as waves of tsunami reached the area after a devastating magnitude-8.9 earthquake hit Japan on Friday.

Although signs of inundation were reported in some areas including Maui, where 7-foot(2.1-meter)-tall waves were reported, the entire chain of islands escaped the onslaught of potential monster tsunami unscathed, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Center said.

Authorities will not lift the warning until dawn, as a typical tsunami effects can last for hours, based on scenario put forward by the center.

A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, usually an ocean, which is triggered by earthquake and other disturbances. More than 200,000 people were killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Kauai, the westernmost islands on the chain of Hawaiian islands, was the first island to be hit by the 6-foot-high (1.8 meters) wave at 3:07 a.m. local time (1303 GMT) after it passed Midway Island at a height of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters). The walls of violent water swiftly swept the whole chain of islands soon afterwards.

Although officials warned that the waves would continue and could become larger, geophysicist Gerard Fryer at the Pacific Tsunami Center said it didn't appear that they would cause major damage in Hawaii.

"But there is going to be some damage, I'm sure," he was quoted as saying by local media.

The National Weather Service has reminded people that there would be a series of waves, and the first wave may not be the biggest.

The massive earthquake and monster tsunami have caused extensive damage and killed hundreds in Japan.

Sirens were sounded in Honolulu about 30 minutes after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, headquartered in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, issued warning at 9:31 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST), alerting people in coastal areas to evacuate.

"Leave all coastal evacuation zones immediately. Refer to Hawaiian Telcom or Paradise Pages for evacuation maps," it said.

Hawaii Civil Defense officials urged all residents in tsunami inundation zones to evacuate immediately.

About 70 percent of Hawaii's population reside in Honolulu, and as many as 100,000 tourists are in the city on any given day.

"The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive," said the National Weather Center. " All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face."

The authorities have beefed up its preparedness against the potential hazard.

People on the island of Oahu were barred from entering tsunami inundation zones after 2 a.m. Friday morning. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle asked resident to stop shopping and waiting in long lines to fill up their vehicles with gas, conserve water and stay off the roads.

Visitors should follow the advice of hotel staff, he advised.

Roadways and beaches in Hawaii Islands remained empty as residents living in coastal areas were evacuated to refuge areas at community centers and schools, while tourists in Waikiki, a popular seaside tourist spot, were moved to higher floors of their high-rise hotels.

Source: Xinhua

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