Pacific islands nations evacuate coastal areas

12:22, March 12, 2011      

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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii has reduced the number of countries on its tsunami warning for the Pacific Basin following Friday's 8.8- magnitude earthquake in Japan.

It lists Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Niue, Tonga, French Polynesia, Pitcairn and Antarctica.

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

The center said sea level readings confirm that a tsunami has been generated which could cause widespread damage.

Samoa media reported the tsunami warning there has been lifted and there had been no reports of inundation.

In American Samoa, officials said a 40 cm surge was recorded in Pago Pago Harbor at 4 a.m. on Saturday and a 50 cm surge an hour later.

The authorities in New Caledonia have lifted the tsunami alert for the territory and for Wallis and Futuna.

In Tonga, thousands of people in the capital Nuku'alofa sought refuge at the King's residence, which is on elevated land.

Radio Tonga was reporting shortly before 6 a.m. New Zealand Time that the marine office had not yet reported any significant wave activity.

The government of Kiribati called off its tsunami warning on Saturday morning just minutes before the wave was due to arrive.

In Nauru, a 20 cm wave has been recorded, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Radio reports from French Polynesia said tsunami waves reached 30 meters inland on the island of Ua Pou in the Marquesas Islands, but caused no serious damage. An official said the wave measured about 50 cm.

Reports from Tahiti said at waves inundated beachfront gardens at the Papenoo surf beach.

Thousands of residents in low-lying areas on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota in the Northern Marianas were evacuated to higher ground.

However, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that initial readings showed waves of only 66 cm hit Saipan.

People in Saipan had filled up their cars with petrol and stocked up at grocery stores but everyone kept calm, and there was little evidence of panic, Radio New Zealand International reported.

The authorities on the United States island territory of Guam in the western Pacific also ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas.

Residents were told to move to ground at least 15 meters above sea level and 30 meters inland.

Source: Xinhua

 
 
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