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Japan 'cautious' as tsunami alert is canceled

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Tsunami arrives in Japan
  • Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancels alert for all nations
  • Tallest wave to hit Japan measures 4 feet
  • Initial tsunami waves from Chilean quake reach Japan
  • First wave strikes Minami Torishima

(CNN) -- Tsunami warnings were canceled for all countries Sunday, a day after a deadly 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile, forecasters said.

However, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in its cancellation alert it was only advising governments, and "only national and local government agencies have the authority to make decisions regarding the official state of alert in their area and any actions to be taken in response."

Despite the cancellation, Japan remained cautious.

The nation's meteorological agency opted to downgrade the warning without eliminating it entirely. Its prior alert of "major tsunami" was changed to "tsunami."

The quake struck Chile early Saturday, killing at least 300 people and prompting tsunami warnings and advisories along the Pacific. Chilean officials are expected to announce an updated death toll later Sunday.

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  • Tsunamis
  • Hawaii
  • Chile
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Japan experienced waves along its coast Sunday afternoon.

It was the last nation a tsunami was expected to reach, according to the alert.

No injuries were reported, but Japanese authorities advised tens of thousands of evacuees from coastal areas not to return home yet.

The first tsunami -- a 4-inch wave -- hit the Pacific island of Minami Torishima, according to the Japanese meteorological agency.

A few waves later, the tallest one yet at about 4 feet hit the Kuji Port in Iwate, the meteorological agency said. The northern part of the main island could be hit by a tsunami at least 9 feet high.

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Sunday's alert was Japan's first major tsunami warning in more than 15 years, the agency reported. In 1960, a tsunami spawned by Chile's 1960 earthquake killed 140 people in Japan.

In the U.S. state of Hawaii, the cancellation occurred nearly two hours after the first waves came ashore. Coast Guard crews said they had found no significant damage to ports or waterways as a result of the tsunami.

But the tsunami center said some coastal areas may see small sea-level changes or unusual currents for the next few hours.

The cancellation "does not mean it is now safe to resume normal activities or re-enter evacuated shoreline areas," the tsunami center said. It said that county civil defense agencies and local police departments would make those determinations.

"There was no assessment of any damage in any county, which is quite remarkable," said Gov. Linda Lingle. "It's just a wonderful day that nothing happened and no one was hurt or injured."

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In Chile, tsunami waves came ashore along the coast shortly after the earthquake, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Victor Sardina said.

The largest was 9 feet near the quake's epicenter, Sardina said.

On the island of Juan Fernandez -- 400 miles (643 km) off Chile's coast -- a large wave killed six people, Provincial Governor Ivan De La Maza said. At least 11 people are missing.

Navigational buoys in Ventura County, California, got minor damage as a result of a 2-foot surge and waves, according to the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

CNN's Kyung Lah contributed to this report.