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Fri 11 Mar 2011 02:02 PM

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Hawaii orders evacuation amid tsunami warning

Alert extends to the whole of the Pacific basin, except for the US and Canada, following Japan quake

Hawaii orders evacuation amid tsunami warning
A tsunami hits Japan following a massive earthquake. (Getty Images)

A tsunami warning
was extended to the whole of the Pacific basin, except for mainland
United States and Canada, following the earthquake off Japan, the US
Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said on Friday.

The warning includes Hawaii and
extends from Mexico and Central down to South American countries on the
Pacific, the centre said.

tsunami warning was issued late on Thursday for Hawaii after the 8.9
magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, prompting civil
defence officials to order all Hawaiian coastal areas evacuated.

warning said that all islands in the Hawaiian chain were in the path of
potential damage from a tsunami generated by the quake.

quake off Japan's northeast coast was the biggest in 140 years and
triggered tsunami waves of up to 10 meters (30 feet) that swept across
farmland, sweeping away homes, crops, vehicles and triggering fires.

The estimated arrival time in Hawaii of a first tsunami wave 3am local time, the advisory said.

Civil defence sirens blared statewide shortly before 10pm local time to alert residents.

individual wave crest can last five to 15 minutes or more and
extensively flood coastal areas," the advisory statement warned. "The
danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent
waves arrive."

The statement also
said that debris carried by a tsunami could amplify its destructive
force, said it warned that "urgent action should be taken to protect
lives and property."

The state
civil defence agency ordered all coastal areas for the entire state
evacuated no later than 2 a.m. local time. The evacuation zone includes
the famous Waikiki Beach, the main hotel and tourist hub in Honolulu on
the island of Oahu.

management officials also urged residents to remain at least 100 feet
(30 meters) away from inland waterways and marinas linked to the ocean
and to move vessels to deeper water.

and tourists were advised that high-rise steel and reinforced-concrete
buildings provide increased protection on or above the third floor.

waves up to 6 feet (2 meters) above normal sea level were detected by
deep-ocean gauges near Wake island, Midway and Guam in the North
Pacific, said Chip McCreary, a spokesman for the Pacific Tsunami Warning

The island of Kauai is
expected to be first hit because the tsunami was advancing from the west
and would likely take 20 to 30 minutes to cross the entire state,
McCreary said.

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