Honolulu, Mar 12 (ANI): A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake followed by the devastating tsunami in Japan has generated evacuation orders across the vast expanse of the Pacific.
Authorities in the low-lying atolls of Kiribati, Hawaii's Waikiki beach, Chile's Easter Island and even inland areas like California's Napa Valley, have struggled to get their citizens out to safer zones, The Guardian reports.
Low-lying islands that were the first in the tsunami's path, Kiribati, Tonga, Guam, ordered people to move 30 metres inland and look for refuge well above sea level. By the time the great wave roared past those islands, communities on the west coast of America were reportedly engaged in their own disaster preparations.
Authorities have warned that although the waves did not bring about much destruction to Guam and other areas, the Pacific rim was not out of danger.
"Stay off the beach. It's not just one wave, it's a series that could last up to 12 hours," US National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson said.
US President Barack Obama reinforced the warning, saying: "If people are told to evacuate, do as you are told."
Hawaii had raised an alarm bell within an hour of the earthquake in Japan, leading people to run from their homes in the dark to stock up with food and petrol.
The US Navy ordered all warships in Pearl Harbor to remain in port and ready to support rescue missions.
People living in beach areas on Oahu and Kauai were ordered to leave their homes. In the Oahu resort area of Waikiki, tourists were moved to hotel rooms above the fourth floor. The authorities in Maui shut down water and sewage plants to prevent their contamination. Schools and government offices were closed.
Northern counties of California had also ordered evacuations. Schools were closed, and police patrolled to keep surfers off the beach. In Crescent City, 35 boats were reported to have been crushed and the harbour area significantly damaged.
Chile, which was forecast to be hit on Friday evening, had ordered residents on Easter Island to make for the island's airport, which is on higher ground. Port officials in Valparaiso ordered ships to move out to sea.
"This is a preventative alert. If there are any consequences from the earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan, they would occur in the last hours of the day," Chile's President, Sebastian Pinera, had said.
At least 15 aftershocks, from 5-6.8 magnitude, hit off Japan's east coast on Saturday following a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck Japan Friday afternoon. (ANI)