The tsunami from Chile's deadly earthquake hit Japan's main islands and the shores of Russia today, but the smaller-than-expected waves prompted the lifting of a Pacific-wide alert. Hawaii and other Pacific islands were also spared. In Japan, where hundreds of thousands were evacuated , the biggest wave following the magnitude-8.8 quake off Chile hit the northern island of Hokkaido. There were no immediate reports of damage from the 4-foot wave, though some piers were briefly flooded.
Officials said that, contrary to the 2004 tsunami that killed 230,000 in the Indian Ocean, they overstated their predictions of the size of the waves and the threat. "We expected the waves to be bigger in Hawaii, maybe about 50 percent bigger than they actually were," says a geophysicist for the warning center. "We'll be looking at that." Japan, fearing the tsunami could gain force, put all of its eastern coastline on alert and ordered hundreds of thousands to seek higher ground as waves raced across the Pacific at hundreds of miles per hour.