Hundreds feared dead in Japan
HAWAII and other parts of the Pacific including the US western coast were last night bracing for disaster after a destructive t s unami and earthquake hit Japan.
Waves about half a metre high hit Wake Island in the Northern Pacific, with waves near t wo metres hitting Hawaii s o o n a f t e r , s a i d Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist f or t he Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
Residents in coastal areas a c r o s s t he Paci f i c f r o m Hawaii to Guam were ordered to evacuate to shelters a n d h i g h e r g r o u n d . I n Hawaii’s tourist district of Waikiki, visitors were being moved to higher floors of t h e i r h o t e l s . R e s i d e n t s waited in long lines stocking up on gas, bottled water, canned food and generators.
‘‘ We’re preparing for the worst and we’re praying for the best,’’ said John Cummings III, spokesman for the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management.
Tsunamis can travel at speeds of 800km/ h, as fast as a jetliner. The warnings issued by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre cover an area stretching the entire western coast of the United States and Canada from the Mexican border to Chignik Bay in Alaska.
In Alaska, a dozen small c o m m u n i t i e s a l o n g t h e Aleutian Island chain were on alert.
‘‘ Everyone in that area knows, when you feel it, move – don’t wait for a siren,’’ said John Madden, director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The largest affected town is Unalaska, population about 4000.
The tsunami was expected to hit the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory last night but no big waves came.
Waves near a metre high hit the beach in Saipan, and sirens still sounded in the empty streets.
Maria Mettao, who works
March 11, 2011: A magnitude 8.9 quake strikes off the northeast coast of Japan, sending a tsunami across the Pacific and killing a stillundetermined number of people.
October 2010: A volcanic eruption and a tsunami kill more than 500 people in Indonesia.
February 2010: An 8.8 magnitude quake shakes Chile, generating a tsunami and killing 524 people.
September 2009: A magnitude 8.0 earthquake unleashes tsunamis of up to 12 metres and killing 194 people in the South Pacific, including 34 in American Samoa.
September 2007: A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rattles Sumatra island, triggering regional tsunami alerts and damaging scores of buildings.
September 2007: An earthquake measured at a magnitude of 8.4 near Sumatra triggers a wave in the coastal city of Padang. The tremor kills at least 25 people and injures around 50.
April 2007: At least 28 people in the Solomon Islands die in a tsunami and earthquake measured at a magnitude of 8.1.
July 2006: A magnitude 6.1 earthquake triggers a tsunami off Java island’s southern coast, killing at least 600 people.
March 2005: A magnitude 8.6 quake in northern Sumatra kills about 1300 people.
December 2004: An Indian Ocean tsunami, which is triggered by a magnitude 9.0 tivity, said Chris Ryan, a forecaster at the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre, the Australian government agency that monitors the threat.
The warning was issued on Thursday at 9.31pm yesterday. Sirens were sounded about 30 minutes later in Honolulu alerting people in coastal areas to evacuate. earthquake, kills a shocking 230,000 in a dozen countries.
August 1976: A magnitude 8.0 earthquake hits near the islands of Mindanao and Sulu in the Philippines, generating a tsunami and leaving at least 5000 dead.
March 1964: A 9.2 magnitude earthquake in Prince William Sound, Alaska, kills 131 people, including 128 from a tsunami.
May 1960: A magnitude 9.5 earthquake in southern Chile and ensuing tsunami kill at least 1716 people.
November 1952: A magnitude 9.0 quake in Kamchatka causes damage but no reported deaths despite setting off 9.1-metre waves in Hawaii.
August 1950: A magnitude 8.6 earthquake in Assam, Tibet, kills at least 780 people.
April 1946: An earthquake measured at a magnitude of 8.1 near Unimak Islands, Alaska, triggers a tsunami, killing 165 people, mostly in Hawaii.
January 1906: A magnitude 8.8 quake off the coast of Ecuador and Colombia generates a tsunami that kills at least 500 people.
August 1868: A magnitude 9.0 quake in Arica, Peru ( now Chile) generates catastrophic tsunamis; more than 25,000 people were killed in South America.
Sources: US Geological Survey, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and WHO’s International Disaster Database About 70 per cent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million population resides in Honolulu, and as many as 100,000 tourists are in the city on any given day.
Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management has created refuge areas at community centers and schools, and authorities on Kauai i s l a n d h a v e o p e n e d 1 1 schools to serve as shelters.