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Expected Tsunami A No-Show After Quake

Southern Japan went on tsunami alert Thursday following a strong earthquake - but the big wave never came.

During the alert, hundreds of thousands of coastal residents were ordered to higher ground as authorities warned of the possibility of waves up to six feet.

But the biggest wave was only 4-1/2 inches high, on Kochi 490 miles southwest of Tokyo. The tsunami alert was lifted after three hours.

The warnings came after a powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 jolted the southern Amami islands at 11:41 a.m. Thursday (7:41 p.m. PDT Wednesday). Tsunami warnings frequently follow quakes, but a full-scale alert is rare.

There were no reports of injuries or damage from the quake itself.

The tsunami-alert area, about 750 miles southwest of Tokyo, was battered by more than 300 aftershocks. It had also been shaken by a strong quake a day earlier.

The area under alert - the eastern coastline of Kyushu, the Amami islands and the southern tip of Honshu - included cities such as the prefectural capital of Kagoshima, with 540,000 residents, Oita, with 427,000 people, and Miyazaki, with a population of 290,000.

After the first small waves, authorities warned against a false sense of security, saying a bigger wave could still follow. It didn’t.

The wave did swamp some small boats. Nine fishing boats were overturned or damaged in port, the Kyodo news service said.

Tsunami, or high waves generated by undersea disturbances, are widely feared in Japan. Sometimes quake-spawned waves kill far more people than a quake itself.

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