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The West Coast of America has been placed under tsunami watch following the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan.

Waves are expected to peak at three foot along the coast shortly after 8am PST and residents who live on or near the beach are being told to evacuate and move to higher ground.

The central and northern California coast and Oregon are thought to be the worst hit and waves in this area were expected at any time.

The warnings cover an area stretching along the entire western coast of the United States and Canada from the Mexican border to Chignik Bay in Alaska. In Alaska, a dozen small communities along the Aleutian Island chain were also on alert.