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Hawaiians head for high ground following tsunami warning

Eugene Tanner / AP

Mitsuko Kawashima, center, of Waikiki and her son Andrew, left, found high ground on Tantalus Drive in Honolulu on March 10. Matsuko and Andrew evacuated Waikiki due to a tsunami warning for the state of Hawaii.

HONOLULU — A tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii after a large earthquake in Japan was widened beyond East Asia late Thursday to include Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Central and South America and the rest of the Pacific Ocean.

NOAA via AFP - Getty Images

This graphic provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows estimated tsunami travel times following a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11. The quake unleashed a monster 10-metre high tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns in Japan. The massive quake triggered a tsunami warning for virtually the entire Pacific Ocean, reaching as far as Australia, South America and Antarctica. However local officials in Australia subsequently ruled that the tsunami posed no threat there.

The warning was issued Thursday at 9:31 p.m. local time in Hawaii. Sirens were sounded about 30 minutes later in Honolulu alerting people in coastal areas to evacuate, and the first waves were expected to arrive at 2:55 a.m. local time (7:55 a.m. ET) Friday.

Read the latest developments on this breaking news story here.