Japan Earthquake Live
March 11, 2011 by staff
In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency on Friday and ordered people on the Galapagos Islands and the coast of the mainland to seek higher ground. The Galapagos, about 600 miles (1,000 kilometres) offshore in the Pacific Ocean, has 19 islands and 42 islets. About 15,000 Ecuadoreans legally live there, working in fishing or tourism.
First affected would be Chile’s Easter Island, in the remote South Pacific, about 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometres) east of the capital of Santiago, where people planned to evacuate the only town at noon, well ahead of the tsunami’s arrival, expected at around 5 p.m. (2000 GMT).
Fishermen were already pulling in their boats and the island’s airport, which is safely 150 feet (45 metres) above sea level, was setting up an evacuation centre for the more than 5,000 residents and tourists in Hanga Roa, the island’s only town. At least two moai — the stunning head sculptures carved from volcanic rock by the islanders’ Rapa Nui forbears — could be hit, former governor Sergio Rapu said in a telephone interview from the island.
“Hanga Roa is oriented to the northwest, toward Japan and exposed to the wave. We’re going to be there, just watching the arrival of the tsunami,” Rapu said. “There are hotels exposed, and also some of the restored monuments are very close to the ocean … This one will be in the middle of the day so we’ll be able to see it.”
Just over a year ago, Chile was slammed by a tsunami in the early morning darkness. The tsunami on Feb. 27, 2010 devastated coastal communities after an 8.8 earthquake just off the central coast. President Sebastian Pinera called on Chileans to remain calm and attend school and work normally Friday despite the tsunami alert.
Mexico’s armed forces ordered boats ashore in Baja California Sur as a precaution, said Jose Gajon de la Toba, of the state’s civil protection service.
Similar measures were taken in countries farther to the south, where any tsunami would be less powerful.
Colombia’s government has placed 16 low-lying towns and cities on alert for a possible evacuation, national disaster director Luz Amanda Pulido told The Associated Press. Colombia’s biggest coastal city is the port of Buenaventura, with 400,000 inhabitants.
Peru’s National Civil Defence Director Guillermo Alvizuri said authorities have ample time for evacuations if they are deemed necessary. Peruvian navy Capt. Atilio Aste said in a radio interview that any tsunami would arrive late Friday along the entire coast. Aste said the waves could be of low height but officials are also not ruling out that they could be considerable.
Chile’s National Emergency Office will issue reports throughout the day to keep the public informed of the danger, and there will be enough time to evacuate if necessary, Pinera said.
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