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Previous story Oregon coast receives mild tsunami waves Next story

Published on Friday March 11, 2011 - 11:12 AM
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NEWPORT, Oregon - The most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in at least 100 years unleashed walls of water today that swept across rice fields, engulfed towns, dragged houses onto highways, tossed cars and boats like toys, apparently killing hundreds and forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands, and is now on its way to the Oregon coast.

Geophysicist Gerard Fryer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu says high water reached Port Orford around 7:30 a.m. PST Friday. However, fears of six to ten foot waves did not occur. Instead, waves of less than two feet in most areas hit the Oregon coast.

Officials along the coast activated warning sirens hours earlier to alert people to leave low-lying areas.

People in coastal areas of Oregon, California and Washington evacuated ahead of the waves.

In Alaska, the tsunami caused a wave just over 5 feet at Shemya in the Aleutian Islands 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Emergency warnings and sirens in some areas of the Oregon coast were activated in an effort to urge people to seek higher ground as the tsunami crossed the Pacific.

Emergency Management Officer Abby Kershaw said that Curry County, the Tillamook area and Seaside had activated sirens to let people know to go to higher ground as a precaution.