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Japan lifts all tsunami warnings after Chile quake

Footage of the aftermath of the tsunami

Japan has lifted all tsunami alerts throughout the country, almost two days after a powerful earthquake hit Chile.

A tsunami more than one metre (3ft) high hit the country's northern Pacific coast on Sunday, although bigger waves were expected.

Other Pacific nations were hit by tsunamis but no major damage or casualties were reported.

In Chile itself, however, areas affected by both the quake and the resulting tsunami saw hundreds dead.

In the fishing village of Concepcion, 350 bodies were found and in the port of Talcahuano more than 20 boats were swept ashore and dumped in the streets by the waves.

Large waves struck Chile's Juan Fernandez island group, reaching halfway into one inhabited area and killing five people. Several more are missing.

Well prepared

Warning systems across the Pacific have improved since the 2004 Indonesia quake sparked a tsunami that killed nearly 250,000 people.

Nations and regions affected by the Pacific "Ring of Fire" all sounded alerts, trying to estimate the anticipated time of arrival of any tsunami following the earthquake, which struck on Saturday at 0634 GMT.

Residents of Tandag in the south-eastern Philippines at an emergency shelter - 28 February 2010
Residents of south-eastern Philippines took shelter after warnings

The first tsunami waves to reach Japan were reported to be just 10cm (4in) high, with a wave of 90cm (35.5in) following.

The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says Japan has experienced many earthquakes of its own and was well prepared.

People in areas at risk were ordered to move to higher ground, train services running along the coast were suspended and steel gates across fishing harbours were shut.

In 1960 about 140 people were killed by a tsunami in Japan after a major earthquake in Chile.

Thousands of people also left coastal areas of the Philippines after warnings of a possible tsunami were spread by text message.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had warned of "widespread damage" across the region following Saturday's quake, but later said waves were not as high as predicted.

A geophysicist at the centre, Gerard Fryer, told the BBC that the tsunami's impact was small because the earthquake occurred in shallow water.

The earthquake was "big enough to do significant damage, but not big enough to do anything large in the far field", he said.

'Ordinary stormy day'

Part of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia were hit by a 4m (13ft) wave, but no casualties were reported.

In Tahiti, the tsunami waves were smaller, causing little damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii gathers information
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii was monitoring the waves

New Zealand's Chatham Islands were hit by a wave of 1.5m (5ft) and areas along the main North and South Islands experienced small surges with no reports of casualties or serious damage.

Sirens were sounded in Hawaii to alert residents to the tsunami threat several hours before waves were expected.

The first waves hit about 2200 GMT on Saturday, after water began moving away from the shore at Hilo Bay on the Big Island before returning.

But correspondents say that, although 8ft (2.5m) waves had been predicted, the islands experienced nothing noticeably different from an ordinary stormy day.

Hawaiian officials later lifted the tsunami warning.

Despite Australian warnings of "possible dangerous waves, strong ocean currents and foreshore flooding" on the east coast, swimmers and surfers flocked to Sydney's Bondi beach.



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