Tsunami warning for Hawaii after powerful earthquake off the coast of Canada

 

At least 100,000 people in Hawaii were ordered to move from the shoreline to higher ground late on Saturday after a tsunami warning, but the first waves were less forceful than had been feared and no damage was initially reported.

The tsunami, triggered by a powerful earthquake off Canada's Pacific coast, began shortly after 10:30 p.m. Hawaii time, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, as motorists clogged roadways in a mass exodus from low-lying areas.

"The tsunami arrived about when we expected it should," Senior Geophysicist Gerard Fryer told reporters at a news conference, saying: "I was expecting it to be a little bigger."

The height of the first surge initially was put at 3 feet, but the warning center subsequently reported that early tsunami wave activity peaked at just 2.5 feet at the island of Maui.

There were no immediate reports of serious flooding or damage, but officials warned that additional waves were still possible and that wave heights of up to 6 feet could be reached in some places.

Following the initial surge, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said it was unclear if the worst had yet passed.

"All of these events are capricious, and you can't really tell which wave is going to be packing the most punch, and sometimes it's the second, third or even the very last one," he told CNN, adding that it might be several hours before officials could give the all-clear and cancel the evacuation.

Tsunami warning sirens in the islands were activated on short notice due to initial confusion among scientists about the quake's undersea epicenter and the extent of the tsunami threat posted by the temblor.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle announced that all police and emergency personnel were being pulled out from potential flood zones shortly before the first wave, leaving anyone defying evacuation orders to fend for themselves. He urged motorists who remained caught in harm's way due to gridlocked roads to abandon their vehicles and proceed on foot.

"If you are stuck in traffic, you might consider getting out of your car and consider walking to higher ground. You will have to assess your own situation, depending on where you are right now. Right now it is critical," he said

Vindell Hsu, a geophysicist at the Tsunami Warning Center said an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people who live in Hawaii's coastal zones had been urged to move to higher ground until after 10:30 p.m.

Governor Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation for the state.

The tsunami center cautioned that wave height could not be predicted and that the first wave "may not be the largest".

It said: "All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face".

The warnings followed a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 that hit Canada's Pacific coastal province of British Columbia late on Saturday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 123 miles (198 km) south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km).

The Earthquakes Canada agency said the quake was followed by numerous aftershocks as large as magnitude 4.6 and that a small tsunamihas been recorded by a deep-ocean pressure sensor.

On Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island, tsunami warning sirens could be heard blaring out across Honolulu, the state capital, prompting an immediate crush of traffic, with many motorists stopping at service stations to top up with gasoline. At movie theaters, films were halted in mid-screening as announcements were made urging patrons to return to their homes.

The last time Oahu had a tsunami warning was after the devastating Japanese earthquake of March 2011.

On Honolulu's famed Waikiki Beach, residents of high-rise buildings were told to move to the third floor or higher for safety.

Stephany Sofos, a resident of Diamond Head near Waikiki, said most people had either evacuated or relocated to a higher floor.

"I moved my car up the hill, packed up my computer and have my animals all packed and with me," Sofos said, saying that she had not yet seen any obvious receding of the surf, a telltale sign that a tsunami wave is imminent.

"I'm pretty confident because we have a lot of reefs out there and that will prevent any major damage. Maybe it's a false confidence, but I'm not really worried," she said, adding, "It is nerve-wracking."

Tsunami Warning Center Geophysicist Gerard Fryer said the tsunami had caught scientists by surprise.

"We thought that the earthquake was on land and when we learned that it was deeper undersea and we gathered more information, we had no choice but to issue a warning," he said

As residents scrambled to reach higher ground on Oahu, at least four major road accidents were reported by the state Emergency Medical Services. More accidents were also reported on the outer islands.

A tsunami advisory was also posted for coastal areas of northern California and Oregon, where a maximum sea level rise was estimated at 6 inches, the National Weather Service said. The agency said no significant flooding was expected.

Reuters

News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

Arts and Entertainment
art
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Bursar/Business Manager

£70 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Experienced bursar or business...

Secondary School Teachers in Ipswich

Competitive & Flexible: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are l...

Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Qualified and/or experienced te...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories