The US tsunami monitoring centre has widened a warning following
the huge quake and tsunami in Japan to virtually the entire Pacific
coast, including New Zealand and Australia.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre expanded a previous
alert to include the US state of Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and the
entire coast of Central and South America.

The centre gave an estimated arrival time for any tsunami of 6.14am at the North Cape (NZ time Saturday).

New Zealand Civil Defence said there was a potential threat of a
tsunami reaching here, but it had not issued its own warning.

”A tsunami is possible. MCDEM (Ministry of Civil
Defence & Emergency Management) and scientific advisers are
assessing the severity of the threat to New Zealand,” Civil Defence

People in New Zealand coastal areas were warned to stay off beaches and out of the water.

Marlborough’s civil defence head Ross Hamilton was encouraging
residents in low lying coastal areas such as Rarangi, Kaikoura and the
eastern coastline to listen to the radio to keep informed about a
potential tsunami threat to the area, following a massive earthquake in

In Indonesia, authorities have urged people in regions in the country’s east to stay off the water and seek higher ground after a tsunami watch was issued following a magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan.

Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency said waves generated by the earthquake which struck off Japan’s north-eastern coast could hit North Maluku, North Sulawesi and Papua by 6pm Jakarta time.

A spokesman from Indonesia’s Search and Rescue (SAR) said people in Papua in particular should stay away from the water.

“It will take five to seven hours to reach Papua so people need to be aware and stay off the water and look for higher ground,” SAR spokesman Surtoto Purwo Nugroho said.

A tsunami watch is not as serious as a tsunami warning.

The alert was issued after the earthquake struck just 400km north-east of Tokyo at 4.46pm AEDT, triggering a 10-metre high tsunami.

A tsunami warning was issued for Japan and Russia, while tsunami watches were also issued for Taiwan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific islands.