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Small tsunami waves hit Philippines

MANILA, March 11, 2011 (AFP) – Small tsunami waves hit the Philippines hours after a massive quake struck Japan on Friday, but officials said there were no reports of damage or casualties as thousands of people fled the coasts.

Waves of between 30 centimeters (one foot) and one meter (3.3 feet) were recorded across the length of the archipelago’s east coast between 6:00 pm and 8:44 pm (1000-1244 GMT) said Renato Solidum, the chief state seismologist.

“We have no intention of lowering the tsunami alert for the time being,” Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told an evening news conference.

He said no reports had been received of damage or casualties.

The government warned communities all along its Pacific seaboard to flee inland hours after an 8.9 quake struck off Japan’s main island at 0546 GMT.

President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda earlier told reporters the entire eastern seaboard up to 40 meters (131.2 feet) from the water’s edge would be cleared of people as a precaution.

Local officials had enforced the order by the time the first waves arrived at dusk, according to the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

It counted more than 2,500 families evacuated from two provinces, but did not give the total number. The government had ordered the coasts of 19 provinces cleared.

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