Tags: Australia | tsunami | waves | quake

No Big Waves as Tsunami Hits Australia

Saturday, 27 February 2010 06:28 PM

SYDNEY - Australian officials on Sunday recorded the first effects of a wide-ranging tsunami generated by the Chile earthquake, reporting a rise in sea levels but no major waves.

Water levels surged by a few centimetres off Tasmania, they said, warning of rises of up to 40 centimetres (16 inches) and strong currents for several hours rolling up Australia's east coast.

"At the moment we're really in the first few minutes of it," Alasdair Hainsworth, the Bureau of Meteorology's acting assistant director of services, told AFP.

"It's sea levels rising by just a couple of centimetres at the moment."

People were urged to stay away from east coast beaches after the massive 8.8-magnitude quake hit Chile, killing 214 people and sending giant waves speeding across the Pacific.

"We're not expecting to see any significant water inundation but we're still urging people to stay away from the water's edge and stay out of the water," Hainsworth said.

"It's likely to cause strong currents. This could occur for the next four to six hours at least."

But hundreds of people ignored the warnings, heading down to Sydney beaches despite fears that the massive earthquake would trigger a tsunami.

At the popular eastern Sydney beach of Bondi, scores of swimmers ventured into the water while in nearby Coogee people lined the promenade above the sand to watch for any unusual waves.

Bondi lifesaver Jacob Waxs said about 100 people were in the water despite being told it was dangerous and that lifesavers had ordered all beaches in New South Wales closed.

"Unfortunately we cannot order people off the beach, we can only advise," he told AFP.

"Initially everybody got out, however, people seem to be going back in and the tsunami warning is still active."

"The surfers here in Bondi will still be out there when there's a shark alarm," he added.

The New South Wales State Emergency Service (SES) has issued official warnings for people to stay away from the state's coastal areas.

"Do not go to the coast to watch the tsunami, as there is the possibility of dangerous, localised flooding of the immediate foreshore," the warning stated.

"Boats in harbours, estuaries or shallow coastal water should return to shore. Secure your boat and move away from the waterfront. Vessels already at sea should stay offshore in deep water until further advised."

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, 27 February 2010 06:28 PM
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