Tsunami watch for Hawaii canceled


POSTED: Thursday, October 08, 2009


The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has canceled the tsunami watch that had been issued for the state of Hawaii after an estimated 8.0 earthquake hit off the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

The watch, issued at 1:36 p.m., was canceled after 2:00 p.m. The watch had said if tsunami waves were generated, the estimated earliest arrival of the first wave on Hawaii shores would have been 6:50 p.m.

The preliminary magnitude of the quake was 8.0, according to the Tsunami Warning Center, but the U.S. Geological Survey lists the magnitude at 7.8. The Geological Survey says the quake was 21.7 miles deep and occurred 180 miles north-northwest of Vanuatu.

The earthquake occurred at 12:03 p.m. Hawaii time.

The Warning Center issued what it called an expanding regional warning and watch for parts of the Pacific located closer to the earthquake. 

Vanuatu is 3,501 miles southwest of Honolulu.

The Warning Center immediately issued a regional tsunami warning for 11 nations and territories, including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Fiji and Kiribati. A tsunami watch was in effect as far as Australia and New Zealand.

There were no immediate reports of injury or damage from officials in Vanuatu, a chain of 83 islands, it lies just over 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia.

“;We have no damage reports yet, but we have had no contact with Santo so far,”; Vanuatu police spokesman Take Rakau told The Associated Press.

While the quakes were not felt in Port Vila, he said Santo, with its capital of Luganville, “;most likely could have felt them.”;

“;The (nation's) National Disaster Management Office has sent out a tsunami warning,”; he added.

The latest warning comes just two weeks after a quake of magnitude 8.3 rocked the South Pacific near Samoa, sparking tsunami waves that killed at least 178 people and devastated coastal villages in Samoa, American Samoa and in northern Tonga.

Meanwhile, the Geological Survey reported a strong earthquake struck south of the Philippines on Thursday morning local time.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 and was located in the Celebes Sea, 175 miles southeast of Jolo, Sulu Archipelago, and 730 miles south of Manila. The quake hit at 5:41 a.m. Thursday local time. 


The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.