Hawaii under tsunami warning after massive Chile earthquake
Hawaii is under a tsunami warning following an earthquake in Chile Saturday morning.
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Waves were likely to hit Asian, Australian and New Zealand shores within 24 hours of Saturday's quake. A tsunami wave can travel at up to 600 mph, said Jenifer Rhoades, tsunami program manager at the National Weather Service in Washington, DC.Skip to next paragraph
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After the sirens are sounded in Hawaii, people in coastal areas, such as tourist-filled Waikiki, would then be instructed on a possible evacuation. The sirens will also be sounded again three hours prior to the estimated arrival time.
McCreery said he didn't know how big the waves will be, but expected them to be the largest to hit Hawaii since 1964.
"If you're in an evacuation zone, police or civil defense volunteers would instruct you to evacuate, or instructions will come out over the radio and TV," said Shelly Ichishita, spokeswoman for the state's civil defense.
If coastal areas are evacuated, visitors in Waikiki would be moved to higher floors in their hotels, rather than moved out of the tourist district, which could cause gridlock.
Some Pacific nations in the warning area were heavily damaged by a tsunami last year.
On Sept. 29, a tsunami spawned by a magnitude-8.3 earthquake killed 34 people in American Samoa, 183 in Samoa and nine in Tonga. Scientists later said that wave was 46 feet (14 meters) high.
Past South American earthquakes have had deadly effects across the Pacific.
That tsunami was about 3.3 to 13 feet in height, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK quoted earthquake experts as saying the tsunami would likely be tens of centimeters (inches) high and reach Japan in about 22 hours.
A tsunami of 28 centimeters was recorded after a magnitude-8.4 earthquake near Chile in 2001.
The Meteorological Agency said it was still investigating the likelihood of a tsunami in Japan and did not issue a formal coastal warning.
Australia, meanwhile, was put on a tsunami watch.
Any potential wave would not hit Australia until Sunday morning local time, it said.
The Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology issued a low-level alert saying people should await further notice of a possible tsunami. It did not recommend evacuations.
Seismologist Fumihiko Imamura, of Japan's Tohoku University, told NHK that residents near ocean shores should not underestimate the power of a tsunami even though they may be generated by quakes on the other side of the ocean.
"There is the possibility that it could reach Japan without losing its strength," he said.