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Countries across Pacific on tsunami alert from quake

world Updated: Mar 12, 2011 11:45 IST

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A devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday triggered tsunami alerts across the Pacific from the coast of California to Indonesia, though no damages have been reported.

In Taiwan, authorities said that minor tsunamis reached the island's east and northeast coasts but they measured only around 10 centimetres (four inches) high, causing no damage. The alert was later lifted as no more tsuanmis were expected.

The warnings stretched from Asia's Pacific rim to other side of the ocean with the United States alerting Hawaii, the northern and central California coast, the Oregon coast, and parts of Alaska, and urging residents to clear beaches and stay out of marinas.

Sirens sounded in Hawaii at 9:59 pm (0759 GMT Friday) and were to go off every hour on the hour. The first waves were expected to hit the Pacific island state around 2:55 am (1255 GMT) and the West Coast three hours later.

"We have about four hours to clear the shorelines," said John Cummings of the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management. "This looks like this will be a very serious event."

US President Barack Obama said that he was monitoring the tsunami threat to his home state of Hawaii and the US West Coast after expressing condolences to those killed in the earthquake and offering aid to Japan.

"We are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials," he said in a statement.

New Zealand's civil defence issued a tsunami marine warning, adding that no threat to land was expected when the tsunami arrives at around 6:23 am (1723 GMT).

"Historical events and pre-calculated tsunami models indicate that the largest effects (less than one meter wave height at the coastline) is expected along the coasts of the central and northern North Island," it said.

However, Australia said that it would dodge the effects of the Japanese quake.

"We are confident that at this magnitude there's no risk to Australia," Chris Ryan, co-director of the joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre adding that no local tsunami warning had been declared.

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the effects of the massive Japanese quake are expected to hit areas of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Johnston and the Solomon Islands in the coming hours.

Indonesia warned people living in its eastern areas -- including Papua, Maluku and North Sulawesi -- to be on guard for tsunamis set.

Besides Taiwan, the quake impact has already been felt in places such as the Marshall Islands where disaster management officials have downgraded an earlieri alert to a "tsunami watch" and the Philippines.

The Philippine government said that seismologists were warning that waves of up to a metre (three feet) could hit between 5:00pm and 7:00pm (0900-1100 GMT).

"These waves may continue for hours," it added, saying the first waves may not always be the largest.

"People should not go to the coast to watch the tsunami," it added.