Japan on alert for possible major tsunami (Lead)

February 28th, 2010 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Feb 28 (DPA) Hundreds of thousands of Japanese households in Pacific coastal areas were ordered to evacuate Sunday after warnings of a possible “major” tsunami produced by the Chilean earthquake.
Shortly before 4 p.m. (0700 GMT), waves of 120 centimetres reached Kuji port in northeastern Japan, the highest observed so far. No victims and serious damages were reported.

Waves between 10 and 90 centimetres were recorded in northern coastal areas. The Meteorological Agency maintained the warnings, saying larger waves could still come.

The agency issued the alert Sunday morning for the entire Pacific coast, urging people to head immediately to higher ground.

It warned that waves as high as 3 metres could hit parts of the Pacific coast, as well as coastal areas of the Sea of Japan in Aomori Prefecture and at Okinawa, the subtropical island about 1,500 km southwest of Tokyo.

The warning halted train service in coastal areas, including the Tokyo metropolitan area. The Coast Guard urged ships operating in the coastal areas to evacuate.

Yasuo Sekita, chief of the weather agency’s earthquake and tsunami observation section, said it might keep the warnings in place, because “the second and third waves could be bigger than the first waves”.

In May 1960, a major tsunami struck the coasts of Japan’s northern island Hokkaido and northern Pacific coastal areas after a powerful magnitude 9.5 earthquake in Chile, leaving around 140 people dead or missing.

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