Asian tsunami fears after Chile quake

Guest Writer

The deadly earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday sent a tsunami across the Pacific Ocean, Channel NewsAsia has reported. About 50 countries and territories stretching from New Zealand to Japan braced for giant waves, after the 8.8-magnitude quake struck the South American country. Waves well over two metres high hit the Chilean coast, killing at least five people in the remote Robinson Crusoe islands, the report said, before the tsunami spread across the Pacific, hitting French Polynesian, New Zealand and causing people in Samoa, Tonga and other island nations to escape to higher ground. Fortunately there were no reports of casualties or serious damage in New Zealand, despite waves as high as 1.5 metres being reported.

Japan meanwhile ordered the evacuation of 50,000 people from coastal areas, as tsunami alerts were issued almost a day after the quake struck Chile. Channel NewsAsia reported the Japan Meteorological Agency as warning that waves of up to two metres were feared along the entire length of the country, from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Fortunately the waves dissipated as they crossed the Pacific and Japan eventually saw waves less than a metre high. Thousands of people were also evacuated in the Philippines. Approximately 10,000 people were relocated along the eastern coast of Mindanao island, the Office of the Civil Defence was reported saying.

708 people in Chile are known to have been killed by the quake, although the toll may still rise further. Santiago International Airport remained closed this morning.

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