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Tsunami fears ease hours after strong quake

Story Highlights

• Tsunami alerts in Pacific Basin lifted after only minor surges result
• Undersea quake east of Kuril Islands had preliminary magnitude of 8.2
• Strong currents could still result on west coast of U.S. and Canada
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) -- Tsunami alerts issued for the Pacific Basin due to a massive underwater earthquake were lifted hours later Saturday when only minor surges resulted.

The alerts had been issued for Japan and a broad area surrounding the Pacific Ocean -- including Hawaii and Alaska -- after the quake hit east of the Kuril Islands.

The temblor had a preliminary magnitude of 8.2, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center bulletin said.

Hours after the quake was detected, instruments in four locations along Japan's northeastern coast measured a rise in tidal levels of about 10-centimeters (4 inches), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. No damage was reported.

A 1-foot (30-centimeter) wave was measured in Shemya, Alaska, part of the Aleutian Island chain, the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said.

The center warned that strong currents could still result on the western coast of the United States and Canada.

Earlier, the Japan Meteorology Agency had said tsunami waves between one and two meters were possible near Hokkaido, Japan, and other areas of Japan's northern island.

The earthquake occurred at 11:23 p.m. ET, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center bulletin said.

After the earthquake, coastal residents in low-lying parts of the warning areas were advised to move to higher ground.

Sirens were sounded in Kushiro, Japan, after the earthquake. Most residents stayed home and some sought shelter in public buildings on high ground, officials said.

In November, a tsunami warning was issued after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake in a nearby area. Large waves were reported hours later in Hawaii and on the western coast of the United States, including a 6-foot wave in Crescent City, California. (Full story)

A wave measuring about 40 centimeters (16 inches) did wash up on some eastern Pacific coastal areas of Japan, officials there said in November, but nothing like the wave of almost 2 meters (about 6 feet) that had been predicted as a possibility.

A 9.1-magnitude quake off the coast of Indonesia on December 26, 2004 caused a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 11 countries. (Full story)

And a tsunami caused by a magnitude 8.3 offshore earthquake struck Hokkaido on September 25, 2003, injuring 589 people and causing significant damage to the port and coastal communities, according to the archives of the U.S. Geological Survey. (Full story)

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Weather forecaster Tetsuya Maekawa indicates the area in Japan that was subject to a tsunami warning.


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