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World Last Updated: Mar 11th, 2011 - 15:30:48

Tsunami Waves Reach Hawaiian Islands, Head Towards West Coast
David Hope
Mar 11, 2011, 07:13

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The first tsunami wave generated by an earthquake in Japan reached Kauai and Oahu in Hawaii, the National Weather Service said Friday.

The extent of damage was unknown, CNN reported.

The massive tsunami was generated by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the east coast of Japan.

NWS officials said a water gauge showed a 1 1/2-foot increase and was rising, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Hawaii Civil Defense officials advised residents in tsunami inundation zones to evacuate immediately. Honolulu police were ordered out of areas threatened by the tsunami, the Star-Advertiser said. About 30,000 residents live in the coastal inundation zone, said John Cummings, a spokesman for Honolulu's Department of Emergency Management.

The weather service said the tsunami would strike the Hawaiian islands as a series of waves and the first wave may not be the biggest. People on Oahu were barred from entering tsunami zones, Mayor Peter Carlisle said.

The mayor asked people to stop shopping and waiting to fill their vehicles with gasoline.

"We want them to get out and get safe now," Carlisle said.

Gauges at Wake Island and Saipan indicated wave heights of about 1.6 feet and 2.5 feet, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center geophysicist Gerard Fryer said.

For Hawaii, "it looks like the largest waves, in Haleiwa and Hilo, will be about 2 meters (more than 6 feet)," Fryer said.

The evacuation area included the tourist area of Waikiki, where beachfront hotel guests staying in concrete or steel-reinforced buildings were being moved to the third floor for safety, Cummings said.

City buses became evacuation shuttles to ferry people to shelters at schools and parks, the Times said. Warning sirens have been sounding hourly since just before 10 p.m. local time Thursday.

"These are not like surf waves," Chip McCreary of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. "These waves effectively wrap around islands, so all coasts will be affected."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, "Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property. � All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face."

Source: UPI

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