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Sun 28 Oct 2012 12:36 PM

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Hawaii hit by tsunami after earthquake

Major evacuation takes place; first tsunami wave was less forceful than expected

Hawaii hit by tsunami after earthquake
(Getty Images)

Hawaii was hit by a tsunami on Saturday night prompting the authorities to order
at least 100,000 people on the island state to move to higher
ground.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the first tsunami wave was three feet
high and less forceful than expected. Some forecasts had predicted a wave of up
to six feet high.

"The tsunami arrived about when we expected it should," Senior Geophysicist
Gerard Fryer told reporters at a news conference, saying: "I was expecting it to
be a little bigger."

Other waves were expected.

The tsunami hit with little warning and an alert, issued at short notice due
to initial confusion among scientists about the quake's undersea epicenter,
caused massive traffic congestion as motorists made a mass exodus from low-lying
areas.

The Warning Centre had said the first tsunami wave would strike the islands
at 10:28pm Hawaii Standard Time.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle announced that all police and emergency
personnel were being pulled out from potential flood zones shortly before the
first wave, leaving anyone defying evacuation orders to fend for themselves. He
urged motorists who remained caught in harm's way due to gridlocked roads to
abandon their vehicles and proceed on foot.

"If you are stuck in traffic, you might consider getting out of your car and
consider walking to higher ground. You will have to assess your own situation,
depending on where you are right now. Right now it is critical," he
said

Vindell Hsu, a geophysicist at the Tsunami Warning Centre said an estimated
100,000 to 150,000 people who live in Hawaii's coastal zones had been urged to
move to higher ground until after 10:30pm.

Governor Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation for the
state.

The tsunami centre cautioned that wave height could not be predicted and that
the first wave "may not be the largest".

It said: "All shores are at risk no matter which direction they
face".

The warnings followed a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 that hit
Canada's Pacific coastal province of British Columbia late on Saturday.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered 123 miles
south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 6.2 miles.

The Earthquakes Canada agency said the quake in the Haida Gwaii region was
followed by numerous aftershocks as large as 4.6 and that a small tsunami has
been recorded by a deep-ocean pressure sensor.

In Hawaii, tsunami warning sirens could be heard blaring out across Honolulu,
the state capital on Oahu, the state's most populous island, prompting an
immediate crush of traffic, with many motorists stopping first at service
stations to top up with gasoline.

At movie theaters, films were halted in mid-screening as announcements were
made urging patrons to return to their homes.

The last time Oahu had a tsunami warning was after the devastating Japanese
earthquake of March 2011.

On Honolulu's famed Waikiki Beach, residents of high-rise buildings were told
to move to the third floor or higher for safety.

Stephany Sofos, a resident of Diamond Head near Waikiki, said most people had
either evacuated or relocated to a higher floor.

"I moved my car up the hill, packed up my computer and have my animals all
packed and with me," Sofos said, saying that she had not yet seen any obvious
receding of the surf, a telltale sign that a tsunami wave is imminent.

"I'm pretty confident because we have a lot of reefs out there and that will
prevent any major damage. Maybe it's a false confidence, but I'm not really
worried," she said, adding, "It is nerve-wracking."

Tsunami Warning Center Geophysicist Gerard Fryer said the tsunami had caught
scientists by surprise.

"We thought that the earthquake was on land and when we learned that it was
deeper undersea and we gathered more information, we had no choice but to issue
a warning," he said

As residents scrambled to reach higher ground on Oahu, at least four major
road accidents were reported by the state Emergency Medical Services. More
accidents were also reported on the outer islands.

marcellus kelley 6 years ago

how about "fog harvesting machines";to releive pressure off the earth!