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Philippine government warns of tsunami threat

The Philippine government has warned residents of 19 provinces in the eastern part of the country that tsunamis could hit their areas Sunday afternoon, a full 24 hours after the earthquake that struck Chile.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a “Tsunami Alert Level 1” shortly before midnight on Saturday over the east coast of the country and urged the residents in these areas to “keep watch” and to prepare for possible evacuation.

“People from threatened communities are strongly advised to coordinate and follow safety instructions from the Office of Civil Defense and local disaster officials,” the institute said, referring to the government agency that usually handles disaster preparations.

Renato Solidum, the director of the institute, said an earthquake in Chile in 1960 created 6-meter-high tsunamis that slammed into the Philippines within 24 hours. “We cannot lower our guard here,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.