11.03.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

Pacific-wide tsunami warning in effect

© Matsugawa Atsushi - Ishinomaki city, after the earthquake.

An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter Scale occurred off the North east Coast of Japan today (5.46 am GMT). Three minutes later, a tsunami alert to Japan was issued from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA). The PTWS has been updating its alerts regularly since then.

Following Japan, the alert was afterwards extended Pacific-wide : the Russian Federation, Marcu islands, Mariana Islands, Guam, Wake Island, Taiwan, China,  Yap, Philippines, Marshall islands, belau, Midway island, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Indonesia, Paupa New Guinea, Nauru, Johnston island, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Howland-Baker, Hawaii, Tuvalu, Cook islands, Niue, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tonga, Mexico, Kermadec Island, Polynesia, New Zealand, Pitcairn island, Gutaemala, El,Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Antarctic, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru. The American states of California and Oregon were also put on alert.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning System (PTWS) was put in place nearly 50 years ago by UNESCO’s Member States through its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), when a 9.5 magnitude earthquake on May 22, 1960 off Chile generated a tsunami heavily affecting Hilo in Hawaii and the Sanriku coast of Japan.  In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami on Dec 26, 2004, building on this experience, IOC-UNESCO has been working with its member states to establish similar systems for the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the seas around Europe to ensure a global cover for tsunami hazards.

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