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Tsunami waves hit Hawaii after Japan quake

March 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Tsunami waves have hit Hawaii after a massive earthquake in Japan. Waves as high as 11 feet reported on the west side of the Big Island, reaching the lobby of a hotel.

Flooding is reported on Maui, and tsunami waves have been swamping Hawaii's beaches in the aftermath of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Kauai was the first island hit by the tsunami. Waves at least 3 feet high were recorded on Oahu and Kauai, but officials warned that the waves would continue and could become larger.

"The tsunami wave has gone through Hawaii, and there does not seem to be any enormous impact, which is extremely encouraging," said Obama's chief of staff Bill Daley.

"There's always the possibility that something may happen after, so people are watching it now," Daley said.

Soon after the quake struck in Japan, tsunami sirens sounded in Hawaii, waking people out of bed. Tourists in Waikiki were moved to higher floors of their high-rise hotels.

Water rushed ashore in Honolulu, swamping the beach in Waikiki and surging over the break wall in the world-famous resort, but it didn't reach the area's high-rise hotels.

People in low-lying areas of Hawaii were evacuated after authorities sounded tsunami warning sirens. Officials said anyone on three stories or higher shouldn't be worried.

Roadways and beaches were empty as the tsunami struck the state, which had hours to prepare.

Hundreds of residents in Oahu flocked to the supermarket late Thursday to buy water and supplies.

The state's Department of Emergency Management created refuge at community centers and schools. Officials in Kauai island opened up 11 schools to serve as shelters for those who have left tsunami inundation zones.

At 1:36 a.m. EST the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled the wave warnings for the Pacific basin. Scientists at the Center say there is still heavy wave activity in Chile and Peru, but the initial strike of the tsunami is already there. They expect those countries to continue to advise individuals against being on or near the shore for the next few hours.

The magnitude-8.9 earthquake in Japan struck about 80 miles off the eastern coast. A small magnitude-4.5 earthquake struck earlier in Hawaii as residents were bracing for the tsunami waves.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages from the quake, which hit 30 miles southeast of Hilo. A geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey says the earthquakes are likely not related.

The Honolulu International Airport remained open on Friday, but seven or eight jets bound for Hawaii have turned around, including some originating from Japan, the state Department of Transportation said.

ABC7 is partnering with the Red Cross in a relief drive to raise money for the victims of the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Members of the ABC7 Eyewitness News team will be taking donations at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and Angel Stadium of Anaheim from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 14.

All checks should be made out to the Red Cross, with "Japan earthquake" in the memo line. Cash will also be accepted at the Rose Bowl and Angel Stadium.

Donations by check can be sent to:
ABC7 Japan Disaster Relief Fund
P.O. Box 5967
Glendale, CA 91221

The Associated Press contributed to this report.