Tags: tsuanmi | damage | quake | tahiti

Tsunami Rolls on After Little Damage in Tahiti

Saturday, 27 February 2010 02:35 PM

PAPEETE - A weak tsunami struck French Polynesia Saturday but there was no major damage, as traffic in areas close to the sea was suspended in a tsunami alert following the quake in Chile.

Huge waves struck the Gambier archipelago at 6:30 am (1630 GMT), the high commissioner's office in Papeete said, as the tsunami raced across the Pacific.

The Marquise islands, northeast of Polynesia, were hit between 7:00 and 8:00 am (1700-1800 GMT) by a series of two-metre (more than six feet) waves which damaged some boats but no one was hurt, officials said.

Between the waves the sea withdrew around 15 metres (50 feet) causing rip currents.

Sirens wailed in French Polynesia and PA systems woke up residents early Saturday to alert them about the impending waves.

The high commissioner's office in Papeete put the islands on alert at 2:00 am (1200 GMT).

A flight run by Air Tahiti Nui, due to arrive in Tahiti on Saturday, was diverted to Hawaii.

In Tahiti all traffic was banned within 500 metres (yards) of the coast.

Several thousand people in Tahiti were moved to higher ground but some residents refused to be evacuated fearing looters.

The tsunami could also be as high as two metres on Rurutu in the Australes, the authorities said, while warning people to climb to at least 10 metres (33 feet) above sea level.

Tsunamis generally come in several waves of which the first may not be the highest.

A huge arc of Pacific nations from New Zealand to Japan went on tsunami alert following the 8.8 magnitude Chilean earthquake, readying emergency plans instituted after the Indian Ocean disaster of 2004.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Saturday, 27 February 2010 02:35 PM
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