HONOLULU: Forecasters early Sunday lifted a tsunami warning issued for the US Pacific state of Hawaii in the wake of a major earthquake off the coast of Canada that had triggered the tidal wave.
“Based on all available data the tsunami threat has decreased and is now at the advisory level and not expected to increase,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center announced.
Earlier, countless Halloween parties were interrupted, restaurants and bars emptied, and highways quickly filled with cars heading away from beach areas.
Television images from the island of Oahu showed relatively small waves peacefully rolling toward shore.
The epicenter of the Canadian quake, which occurred at 8:04 pm Saturday (0304 GMT Sunday) was located 139 kilometers south of the town of Masset, the US Geological Survey said.
Numerous aftershocks, some as strong as magnitude 4.6, followed the initial quake, Canadian officials reported.
Emergency officials in British Columbia urged residents in low-lying coastal areas to be alert to instructions from local officials and be prepared to move to higher ground.
“The tsunami alarm went off and everybody went to the evacuation site,” Danny Escott, owner of the Escott Sportfishing lodge near Masset, told AFP by telephone.
But officials in Canada sought to calm the population.
“We would not be expecting any widespread damage or inundation,” Kelli Kryzanowski of Emergency Management British Columbia told reporters during a teleconference.
Natural Resources Canada said in a statement that the quake was felt across much of north-central British Columbia, including Haida Gwaii as the Queen Charlotte Islands are also called, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, and Houston.
But the ministry also played down the effects on Canada, saying: “There have been no reports of damage at this time.”
The earthquake reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by US seismologists, which measures the area of the fault that ruptured and the total energy released.
The Queen Charlotte Islands, which are also known by their official indigenous name of Haida Gwaii, comprise about 150 islands located north of Canada’s Vancouver Island. Their total population is about 5,000. The Haida people make up about 45 percent of the total population.