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'Treat tsunami alerts seriously'

Torika Tokalau
Friday, April 04, 2014

PEOPLE should treat all tsunami alerts seriously, says Fiji Mineral Resources Department seismologist Laisenia Rawace.

His comment came in light of a tsunami alert that was issued to coastal areas in the Pacific, including Fiji, following a magnitude 8.0 earthquake off the coast of northern Chile at 11:47am on Wednesday.

CBC News reported that waves measuring almost two metres were already striking cities on the coast hours after the earthquake struck.

Mr Rawace said waves of that height had a different energy in it, adding that regardless of the distance of the earthquake from Fiji and tsunami alerts issued, people in Fiji should always be prepared.

The Fiji Mineral Resources Department issued a statement saying the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had issued an expanding regional tsunami warning and watch for parts of the Pacific located closer to the earthquake.

"An evaluation of the Pacific wide tsunami threat is underway and there is a possibility that coastal areas in the Pacific, including Fiji could be elevated to a watch or warning status."

In 1960, a tsunami generated by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake caused massive destruction with more than 2000 dead and another 3000 injured.

The waves were estimated to be about 20m high and also killed people in Hawaii, Philippines and Japan. Suva was also affected with damage to ships anchored at Walu Bay.