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1st Tsunami Waves Pass French Polynesia, No Major Damage

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The tsunami caused by the earthquake in Chile has passed the Marquesas islands in the north of French Polynesia on Sunday, with no reports of major damage.

Residents in Hiva Oa in the Marquesas islands reported at least four big waves pushing in and the sea again retreating, Radio New Zealand International reported on Sunday.

Several waves have also passed other islands in French Polynesia without causing any major damage.

But more strong waves are expected to hit French Polynesia, it was reported.

RFO radio in Papeete reported that a wave less than one meter high has passed the east of the Gambier islands.

In Rikitea on the island of Mangareva, several smaller waves are reported to have passed, ranging from 50 to 80 centimeters in height.

In Rapa, the sea was reported to drop and rise about every 30 minutes.

On Tahiti, only small waves were registered.

All road traffic closer than 500 meters to the shore has been forbidden, with police enforcing roadblocks.

People are advised to seek ground at least 10 meters high.

An Air Tahiti Nui plane due to arrive in Papeete from Tokyo has been diverted to Hawaii.

A Paris-bound flight has been brought forward by one hour.

In the Cook Islands, people have moved inland.

Higher ground near the hospital on Rarotonga was already crowded as people flee the predicted impact zone.

The tsunami is expected at 8:14 a.m. local time on Sunday on a full tide.

The first wave is expected to hit American Samoa at 8:51 AM local time.

American Samoa's Acting Governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia has urged the public not to panic but to go about their preparations calmly.

He asked people not to rush up to Aoloau as there was already heavy traffic heading in that direction.

He said the villages of Iliili, Malaeimi and Pavaiai need not move as these areas were in elevated zones.

In Tonga, public radio has warned people to seek higher ground, with crowds gathering in elevated areas.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2010)

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