Honolulu (Xinhua): The Pacific Tsumani Warning Center on Thursday issued a tsunami warning for Hawaii after a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Japan.
“A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii,” the center said. “Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property.”
The warning was issued for a large swath of the Pacific including Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Central and South America, the center said.
Sirens were sounded in Honolulu about 30 minutes after the warning was issued at 9:31 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST), alerting people in coastal areas to evacuate.
The first waves were expected to arrive at 2:55 a.m. local time Friday, according to the center.
The center said wave heights cannot be predicted, but the first wave may not be the largest.
“The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive,” said the center. “All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face.”
Meanwhile, Hawaii Civil Defense urged all residents in tsunami inundation zones to evacuate immediately.
“Leave all coastal evacuation zones immediately. Refer to Hawaiian Telcom or Paradise Pages for evacuation maps,” it said.
About 70 percent of Hawaii’s population resides in Honolulu, and as many as 100,000 tourists are in the city on any given day.
According to earlier reports, the 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s northeastern Honshu island at about 2:46 p.m. local time (0546 GMT) on Friday, killing at least 16 people and injuring numerous others.