Strong aftershocks and a second sizable earthquake rattled Japan through the night after the island nation's worst quake in recorded history, but the tsunami waves that drowned hundreds in northeast Japan mostly spared other countries around the Pacific Rim.
Tsunami warnings had been issued for the entire Pacific basin after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that toppled thousands of buildings and sent a 30-foot wall of water across the coastal area around the city of Sendai on Friday afternoon.
Tsunami waves moving at jet speed swept across the ocean overnight, arriving at North American shores Friday morning. But most had diminished by the time they hit the shores of Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and Mexico.
Fears of devastating inundations in the Asian Pacific also proved excessive. The tsunami warnings were lifted by Saturday morning local time in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The worst-hit area in California appeared to be Crescent City, where the waves crashed boats with such force that they were crushed and sank. The Associated Press reported that the Coast Guard was searching for a man swept out to sea while taking pictures of the tsunami.
Elsewhere in California, slightly elevated swells rolled ashore Friday morning after the National Weather Service issued warnings for the state. The waves tossed boats and broke moorings at some marinas, such as in Santa Cruz, but but for the most part inflicted little serious damage.
Law enforcement agencies in coastal areas of Washington and Oregon issued evacuation advisories overnight, and sirens alerted residents to what was initially feared to be a risk of inundation. But by mid-morning Friday, most of those who had evacuated were returning home. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said the state had "missed the worst of this event."
In Hawaii, where beachfront resorts had been evacuated across the islands, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center downgraded its warning to an advisory early Friday. There were no reported deaths or injuries, and the worst damage appeared to be a toppled pier at Kailua-Kona on the big island and some nearby homes and businesses that were flooded by the higher-than-normal waves.
At Mexico's Cabo San Lucas resort on Baja California, heavy swells that rolled in about two feet above normal rocked boats but inflicted little damage to the harbor's marinas, local authorities reported.