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Special> Earthquake in Japan> Latest News
UPDATED: March 13, 2011
Tsunami Waves Reach U.S. West Coast

The tsunami waves that swept away lives and homes in Japan have reached West Coast of the United States Friday morning, with no initial reports of major damage.

Local emergency authorities and weather service forecasters have been warning people to stay off the beach, noting that it is a series of waves that could last up to 12 hours after the first arrival, which seemed to be a few feet high.

After striking several Hawaiian islands, the tsunami waves first hit Humboldt and Del Norte counties, northern tip of California. In Crescent City, county seat of Del Norte County, tsunami warnings have been sounded all morning. Fishermen were asked to leave the harbor and some residents were evacuated to higher ground. In 1964, a tsunami set in by a quake in Alaska killed 12 people and injured more than 100 in the city.

In Pacifica, a popular surfing destination located south of San Francisco, eight schools have been closed as a precaution against flooding, and the main beach in the city was also shut down.

The city of San Francisco ordered no evacuations while authorities have been warning residents to stay away from the beach areas.

Parts of Great Highway, a road in San Francisco that forms the city's western edge along the Pacific coast, were closed. Four local beaches were shut down and two Municipal Railway lines operating on the Great Highway have been rerouted.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said officials had been monitoring the situation since the devastating quake hit Japan Thursday night, but waves are not expected to overtop sea walls.

"We will continue to monitor the tsunami warnings that have been issued for the California coastal regions and act accordingly. This is a stark reminder to our city that we must always be prepared for the next disaster to ensure our families are safe," Lee said in a statement.

Six flights to or from the San Francisco International Airport and Japan have been canceled, the airport said.

According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu, high water reach Port Orford, Oregon at about 7:30 a.m. local time Friday.

The Office of Emergency Management in Salem, capital city of Oregon, said the office has gone on a "warm alert," waiting for waves up to 7.5 feet along the southern Oregon coast, according to reports from local newspaper The Oregonian.

The Oregon National Guard has gone on standby with 100 engineers and three helicopter crews ready to kick into action if needed, said the report.

In the state of Washington, waves along the coast were smaller than northern California and Oregon. Residents in two Washington counties were asked to move to higher ground. Some Indian tribes close to the coast were also working with local authorities, local media reported.

In Alaska, emergency authorities said the tsunami from the quake in Japan caused a 5.1-foot wave at Shemya, one of the Aleutian Islands 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

At a White House press conference, U.S. President Barack Obama said there's no major damage to the United States from the tsunami caused by the massive earthquake in Japan.

In a statement issued earlier, Obama said that the U.S. Government will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward, and is asking all U.S. citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials.

Obama noted that he had instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the U.S. states and territories that could be affected.

(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2011)

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