28 Feb 2010

Tsunami reaches Japan

9:52 pm on 28 February 2010

Concern about a quake-triggered tsunami is now greatest in Japan, although the first waves there have been lower than predicted.

A tsunami of nearly 1.5 metres has hit the fishing port of Otsuchi on the north Pacific coast, and smaller waves have struck across the country from the island of Minamitori south of Tokyo to Hokkaido island in the north, reports the BBC.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from coastal areas amid predictions that waves up to 3m high could strike.

The first waves to hit Japan were small but officials say worse could be to come and a tsunami warning remains in place.

Steel gates were closed across the entrances to fishing ports.

Train services on coastal lines were suspended and some roads shut.

Alerts lifted across Polynesia

Tsunami alerts have been lifted across Polynesia.

Radio New Zealand International reports the tsunami hit the rocky and steep Marquesas Islands in the north of French Polynesia most strongly.

A geophysist measured the height of the water to be four metres from top to bottom when it pushed into Taiohae on Nuku Hiva.

In Tahiti, the figure was 40cm which roughly matches readings in Samoa.

Witnesses in the Marquesas spoke of several waves which became progressively larger, and of very unusual swirls and rips for a couple of hours.

There are no reports of casualties or damage to ports.

In Samoa, the tsunami warning was cancelled, after a wave of 50cm was generated.

Thousands of people responded to the tsunami warning, moving from low lying areas to higher ground.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has also cancelled its warning for American Samoa.

In American Samoa, a Radio New Zealand International correspondent says

surges have been experienced, but it was nothing like last September's tsunami.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also cancelled warnings for the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tonga, Tokelau, Fiji, Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Papua New Guinea.