Tsunami causes no apparent damage along California coasts

12:22, March 12, 2011      

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The first waves of tsunami caused by a massive Japanese quake swept through California coasts on Friday, but caused no apparent damage, authorities said.

Geologists warned that heightened waves were expected into the afternoon as high tide approaches.

The first waves generated by the tsunami reached South Californian beaches around 8:30 a.m., and generated some rough currents, but the waves were not unusually large, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

No major problems were initially reported, but harbor masters and lifeguards were watching for tidal surges along the coasts, the USGS said.

"The first waves have already come in, but there could be more sloshing that will come along," USGS seismologist Lucy Jones told a midmorning news conference in Pasadena, Los Angeles.

With high tide due around noon, she warned that additional earthquake-caused oscillations in water height, causing possible damage, were more likely this afternoon in Southern California.

"We are moving toward high tide, which would increase the likelihood of damage," she said.

The 8.8-magnitude Japanese quake caused a 6.5 foot tsunami at Crescent City, about 800 miles (1,280 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, and six feet high at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near Morro Bay in Southern California, said Jones.

According to a local tsunami advisory, "strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is expected," with a one- to three-foot surge probable.

Dr. Ken Hudnut of the USGS cautioned that the first waves may not be the biggest ones, with larger surges possible during high tides around noon.

"Observations are that the waves have been smaller than initially predicted," Hudnut said. "But not much smaller."

Gil Alexander of Southern California Edison, a public electricity facility, said there was "no danger" to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which has a 30-foot wall designed to protect against tsunamis.

Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown said tsunami warnings were issued for the state's coastal areas.

"I urge Californians living in affected areas to follow all instructions from state and federal response agencies," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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