Initial reports suggest limited tsunami damage to Pacific island nations: Oxfam Australia

23:27, March 12, 2011      

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Pacific island nations threatened by tsunamis following Japan's earthquake seem to have avoided the worst-case scenario, with only minor property damage reported at Papua New Guinea, Oxfam Australia said on Saturday.

A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on Friday, unleashing a 10-meter high tsunami that did extensive damage.

On Friday night, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued tsunami warnings for the entire Pacific basin, except mainland United States and Canada, following the earthquake in Japan.

The center issued warning to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga, French Polynesia, Pitcairn and Antarctica.

Several other Pacific states were initially on the tsunami warning list, as was New Zealand and Australia, but have since been removed on Saturday.

Oxfam Australia said initial reports suggested the Pacific islands remain relatively unscathed, and the aid agency will continue to closely monitor the situation.

"Initial reports from several Pacific countries suggest tsunami damage has been limited and alerts are gradually being lifted," Oxfam Australia said in a statement released on Saturday.

"Overnight reports had indicated that the incoming tsunami wave could be higher than many low-lying Pacific islands, with the potential to wash right over them.

"With thousands of islands to account for, it will be some time before the complete picture is available. However, early information suggests these islands appear to have avoided the worst-case scenario."

On Saturday, there have been reports of minor flooding in Papua New Guinea.

The Papua New Guinea National Disaster Center said unusually high tides caused flooding in low-lying areas of Manus Island and Wewak on the north-east coast, and has caused minor property damage.

In the Solomon Islands, water reportedly reached 50 meters inland, so far destroyed one home and washing canoes away.

Source: Xinhua

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