Tsunami hits French Polynesia; Pacific on watch
A geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii says the tsunami was approaching Hawaii a bit faster than originally predicted.
Honolulu (Hawaii): A geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii says the tsunami was approaching Hawaii a bit faster than originally predicted.
Victor Sardina says data coming in from buoys and tide gauges across the Pacific indicated the tsunami should arrive in Hawaii at 11:05 a.m. (4:05 p.m. EST), instead of 11:19 a.m.
He predicts the tsunami would be a series of big waves, rather than a wall of water.
Charles McCreery, director of the center, says the tsunami will be "a lot like a fast high tide" and could pose dangers for several hours after the initial waves hit.
Earlier Tsunami waves up to 6 feet (2 meters) high have struck parts of French Polynesia, but no damage was immediately reported.
Residents were being warned early Sunday morning that tsunamis can consist of several waves and they should remain vigilant.
Tonga and the Cook Islands were evacuating coastal areas as the waves were expected to hit later in the morning.
On Tahiti, traffic was banned on roads less than 500 meters from sea. Residents on islands of low elevation were told to get to high ground.
Monique Richeton, mayor of Rikitea, said the first wave struck Gambier early Sunday at less than one meter and no damage was reported.