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EWA BEACH, Hawaii (AP) — A tsunami triggered by the Chilean earthquake raced across the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, threatening Hawaii as it rushed toward the U.S. West Coast and hundreds of islands from the bottom of the planet to the top.
Sirens blared in Hawaii to alert residents to the potential waves. Nine small planes equipped with loudspeakers flew along the shoreline, warning beachgoers. On several South Pacific islands hit by a tsunami last fall, police evacuated tens of thousands of coastal residents.
The first waves in Hawaii were expected to hit shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday (4 p.m. EST; 2100 GMT) and measure roughly 8 feet (2.5 meters) at Hilo. Most Pacific Rim nations did not immediately order evacuations, but advised people in low-lying areas to be on the lookout.
Unlike other tsunamis in recent years in which residents had little to if any warnings, emergency officials along the Pacific on Saturday had hours to prepare and decide on evacuating residents.
"We've got a lot of things going for us," said Charles McCreery, the director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which issues warnings to almost every country around the Pacific Rim and to most of the Pacific island states. "We have a reasonable lead time.
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