Japan assesses tsunami threat after Chile quake

TOKYO - Japan's meteorological agency said it was assessing Wednesday whether to issue a tsunami advisory after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off Chile's Pacific coast, as authorities braced for waves potentially as high as one metre (3.3 feet).

The quake struck late Tuesday, sending tsunami waves of more than two metres crashing into Chile's northern coast.

The Japanese meteorological agency said tsunami waves could reach coastal zones of the Pacific country early Thursday, but that it was still assessing the danger.

"There is possibility that tsunami of an advisory level could come, which should be in a range between about 20 centimetres and one metre at the highest," an agency official told reporters.

Another agency official told AFP: "We are still assessing whether to issue an advisory as we are collecting updated information now.

"But if it's issued, do not go close to the sea shore until it's lifted." The agency said it would issue a tsunami advisory or warning at around 3:00 am Thursday (1800 GMT on Wednesday) if necessary.

Television footage showed officials in Kochi, southwestern Japan, closing a metal barrier to seal their local breakwater in preparation for possible high waves there.

Large areas of the coastline that are subject to a possible tsunami alert following the Chile quake were also hit by a 2011 quake and tsunami, which killed more than 18,000 and triggered a nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the crippled plant, will suspend part of operations scheduled for early Thursday near the sea shore at the plant in preparation for any possible waves, Jiji Press said.

In 1960, a 9.5-magnitude earthquake in Chile sent a tsunami across the Pacific that killed more than 140 people in Japan.