* Waves brush U.S., Mexico after thousands evacuated
* Floods in parts of Latin America, little major damage
(Updates with Mexico reopening Pacific ports)
By Dan Levine and Antonio de la Jara
SAN FRANCISCO/SANTIAGO, March 12 Tsunamis
triggered by Japan's devastating earthquake that prompted
evacuations on the Pacific coast of North and South America
caused flooding as far away as Chile on Saturday, but damage
The tsunami lost much of its energy as it moved thousands
of miles (km) across the Pacific Ocean, although governments
took no chances and ordered large-scale evacuations of coastal
areas, ports and refineries.
Despite the power of Japan's biggest-ever quake and the
tsunami from which the toll of dead or missing was expected to
exceed 1,800, the tsunami waves were relatively benign as they
rolled into the Americas, causing only isolated flooding, and
fears of a catastrophe proved unfounded.
The tsunami swept past Chile's remote Easter Island in the
South Pacific, generating swells but no major waves. Wooden
chalets on Chile's northern coast were damaged and some small
boats were swept away when the tsunamis intensified, local
television footage showed.
The sea later flooded as far as 330 feet (100 metres)
inland in Dichato and Talcahuano, 310 miles (500 km) south of
the capital, Santiago, and near the epicenter of the massive
8.8 magnitude quake that struck Chile in February 2010.
The government stopped residents from returning to their
coastal homes until Saturday afternoon as a precaution.
But the damage appeared relatively mild and officials on
Saturday reopened copper exporting ports that had been closed
as a precautionary measure ahead of the tsunami and recalled
large ships sent out to sea to avoid damage.
"The alert is now over. People can be confident the danger
is over," said government spokeswoman Ena Von Baer, adding
fishermen should remain cautious because of swells and
TAKE A LOOK on Japan earthquake, tsunami [ID:nL3E7EB0V5]
Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, a wildlife sanctuary and
popular tourist spot, suffered some damage to infrastructure,
and several harbors in California were hit.
Frank Boyle, president of Peru's port authority, said the
northern port of Paita and the southern ports of Ilo and
Matarani were reopened.
Peru's key central mining port of El Callao remained
closed, as did the southern port of Pisco, where Reposl
(REP.MC) exports natural gas. Another mining terminal used by
Shougang Hierro Peru was still out of action.
"The situation's going to be evaluated and on the basis of
that, we'll gradually be reopening the ports," Boyle told
U.S. HARBORS SMASHED
About 35 boats and most of the harbor docks were damaged in
Crescent City near the California border with Oregon, where
waves were more than 6 feet (2 metres). Santa Cruz south of San
Francisco sustained about $2 million in damages to docks and
vessels, emergency management officials said.
A 25-year-old man was swept out to sea while standing on a
sandbar at the mouth of the Klamath River in California.
The port of Brookings-Harbor, the busiest recreation port
on the Oregon coast, was largely destroyed, said operations
manager Chris Cantwell. "Right now we are in the middle of a
big mess," he said. "The surge pulled some (boats) out to sea,
about a dozen sank and we've got boats everywhere sitting on
top of one another and all over the place."
In Hawaii, 3,800 miles (6,200 km) from Japan, the Big
Island of Hawaii sustained the most damage, with about 12 homes
destroyed or badly damaged, a civil defense official said.
Water rushed over the sea wall in Kailua-Kona on the big
island, flooding a hotel and destroying some businesses. There
was about $1 million damage to the Kailua-Kona pier.
On the island of Oahu, which was hit by four tsunami waves,
a boat harbor suffered about $1 million in infrastructure
damage when docks were torn away with vessels still attached.
Ecuador took extreme precautions after President Rafael
Correa declared a state of emergency across the Andean nation
on national television and urged residents to move inland.
Oil firm Petroecuador also halted production, but navy
officials said on Friday night the risk of danger had passed.
Mexico reopened its Pacific ports on Saturday afternoon,
including its oil-exporting port of Salinas Cruz in the
southern state of Oaxaca, its main container port, Manzanillo,
and the cruise ship harbor at Los Cabos, the government said.
Mexican officials said high waves had hit the northwestern
Pacific coast but there were no reports of damage.
(Reporting by Reuters correspondents in the Americas; Writing
by Ross Colvin and Robin Emmott; Editing by Simon Gardner and