Tsunami Alert Issued Across South America

Friday, 11 Mar 2011 08:01 AM

 

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Chile, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador put communities and ports on their Pacific coasts on tsunami alerts after Japan was hit by its strongest earthquake in at least a century.

Coastal areas of Easter Island will be evacuated today, Chile’s state television station TVN reported. Colombia’s biggest port, Buenaventura, is on alert after the 8.9-magnitude quake in Japan triggered a warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Luz Amanda Pulido, head of the country’s disaster prevention agency, told radio station RCN. Peru and Ecuador’s Pacific coast are also on alert, authorities in both countries said.

Waves generated by the 8.9-magnitude quake may reach Easter Island, located 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles) off the Chilean coast, about 6 p.m. New York time and the mainland about 9:30 p.m., Chile’s emergency reaction authority Onemi said on its website. Waves may reach Peru’s coast about 7:30 p.m. New York time, newspaper El Comercio reported, citing the local Navy.

“This is a preventative alert,” Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera told reporters. “If there are any consequences from the earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan, they would occur in the last hours of the day.”

Easter Island suspended school classes and is preparing to evacuate people living near the coast, La Tercera reported on its website, citing Mayor Luz Zasso Paoa. TVN reported that Lan Airlines SA suspended flights to the island. Schools and government offices on the Chilean mainland will remain open, TVN said.

An 8.8-magnitude quake, the fifth-strongest in a century, hit southern and central Chile on Feb. 27, 2010, killing more than 500 people and causing $30 billion in damage.

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