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Tsunami Warning lifted, beaches still closed

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by Jason Salas

Guam - After an incredibly tense six hours following the devastating earthquake in Japan measuring 8.9 on the Richter Scale, Guam's Tsunami Warning was called off. Initially a Tsunami Watch after the seismic event was detected at 4:46 on Friday afternoon local time, it was upgraded to a Tsunami Warning, with the estimated time a tidal wave could approach Guam being 7:07 and then 7:17 and then 11pm.

After learning that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Guam lifted the Tsunami Warning, Governor Eddie Calvo authorized all roads to be reopened. The evacuation notice for residents and visitors in low-lying areas was likewise lifted.

Public beaches will remain closed until 7am Saturday.

"I want to thank everyone for their patience tonight," Governor Calvo wrote from the Office Civil Defense. "We are so blessed no tsunami affected our island. But, our neighbors in Japan were not so fortunate.

"Throughout this evening, we watched the devastation in Japan from the 8.9 earthquake and tsunami, and we monitored Guam's situation from the Tsunami Watch to the Tsunami Warning. We assessed the situation, considered the Japan earthquake was 10 times bigger than the 7.9 earthquake we had in 1993, and determined we needed to take action.

"We coordinated an evacuation and safety measures throughout the island as the real threat of a tsunami was upon us. Unlike previous tsunami watches and warnings in recent history, there was a very likely possibility a tsunami would have affected the people's safety. Many people thought a tsunami would never affect American Samoa. We don't ever want to let down our guard and risk a similar tragedy like what happened last year in American Samoa.

"I know this inconvenienced many people, but there was no way I was going to put the lives of families, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities at risk. We can never be too cautious with the people's safety when a destructive tsunami threatens our shores.

"I have also called the Consul General of Japan to offer Guam's condolences and support. We are working together to provide food and comfort to our visitors from Japan as they wait to return home at the airport. We are also collaborating with the airlines. The government and people of Guam offer whatever assistance we can give to the Japanese people.

"I have also offered Captain Zalamea, Admiral Bushong's chief of staff, our partnership in helping Japan together with the Admiral's office. I ask all Guamanians to pray for the families of those who died, for the recovery of those issues, and for the safe return of anyone missing."

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