As of 6:47 a.m. B.C.’s coast remained on a Tsunami advisory. According to West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Information, this means a potential tsunami may produce strong currents or waves dangerous to those in or near the water. People are advised to stay away from the shorelines.
Latest estimates say waves may have reached part of the B.C. coast as early as 5:30 a.m. The tsunami information agency is reporting that tsunami activity has been detected in Honolulu, Hilo and Kahalui, Hawaii.
Local officials may choose to close beaches, evacuate harbours and marinas or reposition ships to deep waters when there is time to safely do so.
VANCOUVER — The West Coast Alaska Warning Centre issued a tsunami watch for parts of British Columbia Friday in the wake of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan.
Affected areas included the North Coast and Haidi Gwaii Islands, the Central Coast including Bella Bella, Bella Coola and Shearwater, and the outer west coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.
“What this means is local governments in those zones are advised to activate their emergency plans and stand by for further information,” said Glen Plummer, spokesman for the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program. “As more information becomes available, the provincial emergency coordination centre will provide further updates.
There are three levels of notification, Plummer noted: Watch is the lowest, followed by advisory, then warning.
No other areas of coastal British Columbia are at risk.
Waves were expected to strike marinas and other infrastructure along the coast, said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
It singled out several areas of coastal B.C., including along the north coast and Haida Gwaii Islands; the central coast, including Bella Bella, Bella Coola and Shearwater; and the outer west coast of Vancouver Island, from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew.
The first waves were expected to hit Langara, B.C., then to reach Tofino just before 7 a.m. local time, or 10 a.m. ET.
Just how big or severe they would be was not known.
“We are liaising with authorities in the West Coast in order to carefully monitor tsunamis in the Pacific,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
He and his wife, Laureen, also offered their condolences to the victims in Japan.
“Their thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families who have lost their loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office.
“Canada will stand by the people of Japan during this difficult moment.”
Meanwhile, Canadians were scrambling Friday to reach relatives and loved ones in Japan following the massive earthquake.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said they have not received any reports of any Canadians being injured or killed in the 8.9-magnitude quake, which so far been blamed for 44 deaths, a toll that is expected to climb.
Many in Canada trying to check on the safety of friends following the quake were met with dead phone lines.
“I kept calling with international calls and I couldn’t reach them,” Yasumoto said. “It just turns to voice-mail messages, or it says many people calling right now, so try them again later.”
People throughout Japan reported cellphone outages throughout the country, however Internet access was still available, despite being slow.
Emmanuelle Lamoureux, a spokeswoman with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, said there are 1,512 Canadian citizens registered with the embassy in Tokyo.
“The Canadian Embassy in Tokyo is working closely with local authorities and stands ready to provide consular assistance to Canadians as required,” said Lamoureux in an e-mail. “We extend our condolences to all those affected by this significant natural disaster.”
Cameron Fisk of Vancouver communicated with his friend in Susono via the social-networking application Facetime.
His friend reported feeling “four or five small aftershocks” shortly after the quake.
Mio Sheo, a Japanese journalist based in Vancouver, said she received emails from friends and colleagues in Tokyo and Nagano but had not heard back from people in Osaka.
People in Vancouver who are looking to contact friends and family in Japan are advised to register for the Finding Family Links program at their local Red Cross.
“That is the best way to reconnect with people,” said Bas Brusche, spokesman for the Red Cross in B.C. “In Japan there will be a registration as well.”