Pacific tsunami passes without major damage

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Several nations in the Pacific Ocean have been hit by small tsunamis generated by the earthquake in Chile but there have been no reports of major damage or casualties

A warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii was sent across the Pacific region earlier today by email and text message.

In the Cook Islands and Samoa, low lying areas were evacuated and Tongans living close to the sea were told to consider moving but the tsunami passed these areas without any incidents.

The Marquesas Islands in the north east of French Polynesia were hit by a four metre wave, but Thibault Marais from Tahiti Presse Online says while some fishing boats were sunk and the local dock was damaged, no was hurt.

“No casualties. No people injured,” he said.

The tsunami warnings have been progressively cancelled for island nations in the region.

Hawaii warning

Meanwhile, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says the tsunami warning issued for the US state of Hawaii has been lifted.

It says while some coastal areas in Hawaii may still experience sea level changes or strong currents for several more hours, there is no longer a destructive tsunami threat to the state.

In Australia, the tsunami generated by the earthquake in Chile has hit beaches on the eastern coast, but there were no reports of damage.

The national tsunami warning centre says there are no concerns about major inundation, only foreshore flooding and strong currents which could pose a risk to swimmers or boats.

Chris Ryan, co-director of the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, says residents in low-lying parts of offshore Norfolk Island had been evacuated as a precaution but he was not aware of any other evacuations in Australia.

NZ waves

Meanwhile, New Zealand which has registered small waves of some 20 centimetres on its eastern Chatham Islands is expecting bigger waves to follow.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management says New Zealand’s entire east coast is at risk with waves of up to three metres expected.

John Mitchell the Civil Defence controller in New Zealand’s Canterbury region says it could be hours before the waves reach their peak.

“We should expect the wave activity to increase in the six to twelve hours after the arrival of the first wave.”

“So we expect to see at least a continuation of what we’re seeing.”

“And then once the activity starts in the bays, and more waves come in behind them, we get more of a confused situation occurring, so there can be more local effects as well.”