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Tsunami Threat Wanes, Warnings Lifted After Chile's Quake

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Several countries and regions have lifted their tsunami warnings as the threat of sea waves triggered by Chile's 8.8-magnitude earthquake were not as strong as thought to be.

Nicaragua's Pacific coast canceled the tsunami warning after the powerful quake in Chile as the waves monitored so far were too weak to pose a threat to normal life, Nicaragua's disaster relief officials said Saturday.

A tsunami warning issued for Russia's Pacific coast has also been lifted since the waves reaching the peninsula of Kamchatka were very small, the RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing local emergency officials.

Specialists in Kamchatka have registered a maximum 30 cm rise of the water level in the area, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

An official from the local tsunami prevention center said the waves posed no threat to residents.

"Gauges installed in the Vodopadnaya area continue registering the increases and decreases of the water levels and the process is still going on, but any dangerous phenomena are out of the question," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Officials in Hawaii said the US Pacific state "dodged a bullet" as tsunami waves triggered by the Chilean earthquake passed by.

The first waves of tsunami began to affect Hawaii just before noon, reaching the Hilo Bay on the Big Island at about 11:15 AM local time (2115 GMT), slightly later than predicted.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) on Saturday lifted a tsunami warning for the state. Governor Linda Lingle said Hawaii escaped the tsunami unscathed.

Tsunami alerts were being lifted across French Polynesia on Sunday. The tsunami has passed into the western Pacific after reaching the eastern islands of Polynesia.

An all-clear has been given in French Polynesia and Samoa.

Radio New Zealand International reported that the tsunami hit the rocky and steep Marquesas Islands in the north of French Polynesia most strongly.

Civil defense authorities in New Zealand on Sunday downgraded their tsunami warning, but residents in coastal areas were being warned to stay vigilant against tidal surges.

The PTWC already lifted its warning for every country except Japan, though some Pacific Rim countries, including the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, were keeping their warnings as precaution.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2010)

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