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Tsunami Weakens Substantially Before Hitting Americas


Fishermen pull a boat from the sea in preparation for a possible tsunami in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan, Mexico, March 11, 2011

Fishermen pull a boat from the sea in preparation for a possible tsunami in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan, Mexico, March 11, 2011

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes along the Pacific coast of North and South America ahead of a tsunami triggered by Friday's massive earthquake off Japan.

But damage was less than feared after the massive wave lost energy as it traveled thousands of kilometers across the Pacific Ocean.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the United States escaped major damage from the tsunami. The hardest hit states were Oregon and California, where authorities estimate the more than two meter high tsunami caused millions of dollars in damages. One man was washed out to sea while taking photographs of the wave and is missing and feared drowned.

The tsunami first hit the United States when it washed up on the shores of Hawaii early Friday. Residents and visitors had been warned hours before the two meter wave arrived.

In South America, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador issued warnings and moved residents away from the coast. But the tsunami waves that arrived were only slightly larger than normal waves and caused little damage.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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