Canadian quake triggers mild Hawaiian tsunami

AFP, HONOLULU

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 - Page 1

A mild tsunami hit Hawaii late on Saturday after a powerful earthquake off the west coast of Canada, forcing a state-wide evacuation, but apparently failing to cause major damage.

TV images from the island of Oahu showed relatively small waves peacefully rolling toward shore.

Shortly after, forecasters lifted a tsunami warning issued in the wake of the quake.

“Based on all available data, the tsunami threat has decreased and is now at the advisory level and not expected to increase,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center announced.

Highways and roads in coastal areas were reopened, allowing thousands of residents and hundreds of tourists to return to their homes and hotel rooms.

However, the tsunami, set off by a powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck off the west coast of Canada, succeeded in disrupting the weekend activities of many tourists and residents.

Countless Halloween parties were interrupted, restaurants, bars and movie theaters emptied, and highways quickly filled with cars heading away from beach areas.

Tourists from Waikiki to Turtle Bay in Honolulu were evacuated to higher floors in their hotels, and major tourist centers looked abandoned for several hours.

Haiwaii Governor Neil Abercrombie declared a state of emergency when the first alert was sounded.

Initially, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no “destructive widespread tsunami threat” after the 7.7 magnitude quake shook the Queen Charlotte Islands off the west coast of Canada.

However, later it issued a warning, saying a tsunami had been generated by the earthquake and that it was headed toward Hawaii.

Sirens blared across the archipelago as local officials took to the airwaves, urging residents to head for higher ground — or higher floors if they were in multi-story buildings.

The epicenter of the Canadian quake, which occurred at 8:04pm on Saturday, was located 139km south of the town of Masset, the US Geological Survey said.

Numerous aftershocks, some as strong as magnitude 4.6, followed the initial quake, Canadian officials reported.

Emergency officials in British Columbia urged residents in low-lying coastal areas to be alert to instructions from local officials and be prepared to move to higher ground.

However, officials in Canada sought to calm the population.

“We would not be expecting any widespread damage or inundation,” Kelli Kryzanowski of Emergency Management British Columbia told reporters during a teleconference.