A tsunami triggered by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake thousands of miles away in Canada has hit the island chain of Hawaii, without causing major damage.
Emergency sirens sounded to alert residents late on Saturday, and people were ordered out of low-lying areas.
The first waves were reported to be up to 2.5 ft (76 cm) in one area, but were generally smaller than expected.
Hours later, the tsunami warning was downgraded and the state governor said Hawaii could count its blessings.
Wave heights of three to six feet had been predicted in some areas.
The quake struck 125 miles (200 km) south-west of the Canadian town of Prince Rupert at a depth of 11 miles (18km), said the US Geological Survey.
While the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not initially expect a threat beyond the immediate area, it later warned that a tsunami had been generated “that could cause damage along the coastline of all islands in the state of Hawaii.”
The centre called for urgent action to protect lives and property. People living in areas considered to be at risk were urged to move to higher ground.
First waves hit the archipelago, made up of hundreds of islands spread over some 1,500 miles, from around 22:30 local.
A senior scientist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, Gerard Fryer, told journalists that while the tsunami had arrived as predicted, he had been “expecting it to be a little bigger.”
A civil defence source tweeted that Wailoa Harbor on Hawaii island was reporting 4 ft waves every six minutes.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, in an announcement posted at 00:54 local, that the tsunami warning was cancelled.
“Based on all available data, the tsunami threat has decreased and is now at the advisory level and not expected to increase.
“Sea level changes and strong currents may still occur along all coasts that could be a hazard to swimmers and boaters as well as to persons near the shore at beaches and in harbors and marinas. The threat may continue for several hours,” it said.
In the wake of the cancellation, police began reopening roads and people in low-lying areas area were being allowed home, local media reported.
“We want to make certain that everybody understands this advisory now. The water is still treacherous; the water is still dangerous but we can go home and, as I say, we can count our blessings here in Hawaii,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said.
Earlier, an eyewitness watching the beaches on Kauai island told said the waves were big and that a “strange mixture of fear and anticipation” reigned.
“A plane with a siren flew over … and everyone left the beach and coastal buildings. All the boats have been taken out of the water. It’s empty down there which is weird. People went buying gas and groceries,” Mike Dexter-Smith said.
The quake struck the coast of western Canada at around 03:00 GMT and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock.
There were no immediate reports of damage on the Canadian coast following the earthquake.
Tsunami alerts that were issued for coastal areas of Alaska and British Columbia were swiftly downgraded.
Urs Thomas, operator of the Golden Spruce hotel in Port Clements, close to the epicentre, said the initial quake lasted about three minutes.
“It was a pretty good shock,” he told Associated Press.
“I looked at my boat outside. It was rocking. Everything was moving. My truck was moving.”
A resident of the mainland town of Prince Rupert, Grainne Barthe, told AP: “Everything was moving. It was crazy. I’ve felt earthquakes before but this was the biggest. It was nerve-wracking. I thought we should be going under a table.”
Following the quake, small waves measuring 69 cm (27 inches) were reported on the north-east tip of Haida Gwai, while parts of the north-east coast of Vancouver Island saw waves up to 55 cm high.
A tsunami warning has been issued for Hawaii after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake rocked an island off the west coast of Canada Saturday.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center originally said there was no threat to the islands, but a warning was issued later Saturday and remains in effect until 7:00 p.m. Sunday. A small craft advisory is in effect until Sunday morning.
A small tsunami prompted state and federal officials to warn people in southeast Alaska and down the Canadian coast to take precautions.
The temblor shook the Charlotte Islands area on Saturday night, followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock several minutes later. There were no immediate reports of major damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit the Queen Charlotte Islands just after 8:00 p.m. local time Saturday at a depth of about 3 miles (5 kilometers) and was centered 96 miles (155 kilometers) south of Masset, British Columbia. It was one of the biggest earthquakes around Canada in decades and was felt across a wide area around British Columbia.
The National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska and Hawaii. The first wave of the small tsunami, about four inches (101.6 millimeters), hit the southeast Alaska coastal community of Craig.
A tsunami warning has been issued for Hawaii after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake rocked an island off the west coast of Canada Saturday
Dennis Sinnott of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Science said a 69 centimeter (27 inch) wave was recorded off Langara Island on the northeast tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands. Another 55 centimeter (21 inch) wave hit Winter Harbour on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.
“It appears to be settling down,” he said.
“It does not mean we won’t get another small wave coming through.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center originally said there was no threat to the islands of Hawaii, but a warning was issued later Saturday and remains in effect until 7:00 p.m. Sunday. A small craft advisory is in effect until Sunday morning. The center says the first tsunami wave could hit the islands by about 10:30 p.m. local time.
The USGS said the 7.7 magnitude temblor shook the waters around British Columbia and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock several minutes later. Several other aftershocks were reported.
The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska said it was trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.
Lt. Bernard Auth of the Juneau Command Center said the Coast Guard was working with local authorities to alert people in coastal towns to take precautions.
The quake struck 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Sandspit, British Columbia, on the Haida Gwaii archipelago, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. People in coastal areas were advised to move to higher ground.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked the north-western part of Costa Rica triggering a tsunami warning, the US Geological Survey said.
A tsunami warning is in effect for Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.
The quake was centred about 50 miles (80 km) south of the town of Liberia and was at a depth of 12.4 miles.
It rattled buildings and cut power in some parts of the capital of San Jose, Reuters news agency reported.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake has rocked the north-western part of Costa Rica triggering a tsunami warning
Power and communications in much of the country were briefly knocked out, according to Costa Rican authorities.
Regional media reported it could be felt as far away as Nicaragua and El Salvador.
The US Geological Survey originally said the quake had a magnitude of 7.9, but revised it down to 7.6.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reduced the area of the tsunami warning, which had earlier included the Pacific coast of most of Central and South America to Costa Rica and its immediate neighbours.
Douglas Salgado of the National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention told the Associated Press news agency that there were no initial reports of damage or deaths in the earthquake zone.
He said officials were having problems reaching people in the area nearest the epicentre.
The tsunami alert declared after two major earthquakes struck off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province has now been cancelled, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) says.
Two hours after the quakes – one with a magnitude of 8.6, the other measuring 8.3 – the centre says “the threat has diminished or is over for most areas”.
The alerts caused panic as people fled buildings and made for high ground.
There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
India and Sri Lanka have also lifted their own tsunami warnings.
The region is regularly hit by earthquakes. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed 170,000 people in Aceh alone and some 250,000 around the region.
The US Geological Survey (USGS), which documents quakes worldwide, said the first Aceh quake was centred at a depth of 33 km (20 miles), about 495 km from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.
It was initially reported as 8.9 magnitude but was later revised down to 8.6 by the USGS. Quake officials said a tsunami had been generated and was heading for the coast of Aceh.
A PTWC alert said that sea level readings indicated a tsunami was generated and that it “may already have been destructive along some coasts,” without specifying where.
A Thai disaster official said a 10cm wave had been recorded on Koh Miang island, off Phang Nga.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had told reporters in the capital, Jakarta, that there had been no tsunami reports so far, “but we remain vigilant”.
“Our warning system is working well, and I have ordered the national relief team to fly immediately to Aceh to ensure the situation is under control and to take any necessary action,” he said.
Tsunami alert caused panic among Indonesian people who fled buildings and made for high ground
A few hours later, the PTWC renewed its warning after a major aftershock measuring 8.2 struck 16 km (10 miles) beneath the ocean floor and 615 km from Banda Aceh.
An AFP correspondent in Banda Aceh said the aftershock lasted four minutes.
“People are panicking and running outside their home and from buildings,” he said.
The PTWC issues advisory alerts across the region, which state authorities can use to issue their own emergency procedures. Indonesia straddles the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone of major seismic activity.
Sutopo, a spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, said electricity had been cut in Aceh and there were traffic jams to access higher ground.
“Sirens and Koran recitals from mosques are everywhere,” he told Reuters.
Tremors were felt as far away as Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. The French island of Reunion was also on alert.
Along the eastern coast of Africa, Kenya and Tanzania issued their own tsunami warnings.
“There was a tremor felt by all of us working in the building,” said a man called Vincent in Calcutta, India.
“All just ran out of the building and people were asked not to use the elevator. There was a minute of chaos where all started ringing up to their family and asking about their well-being.”
Tsunami warning sirens, set up in many vulnerable areas after the 2004 disaster, were heard in Phuket, Thailand, where correspondents said people were calmly following evacuation routes to safe zones.
Roger Musson, a seismologist from Britain’s Royal Geological Survey, said the quakes were unlike those seen off Indonesia in recent years, where ground had been pushed under the continental plate, “flipping up” the seabed.
“It seems to be a large earthquake within the Indian Plate and the plate has broken in a sort of lateral way,” he said.
“It’s a sort of tearing earthquake, and this is much less likely to cause a tsunami because it’s not displacing large volumes of water.”