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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crescent City harbor 'destroyed' in tsunami; man swept off beach near Klamath missing at sea

It appears Crescent City and southern Oregon bore the brunt of Friday's tsunami, with officials reporting devastated harbors, sunken boats and a total of seven people swept out to sea, one of whom is presumed dead.

Triggered by a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, the tsunami caused tides to begin rising sharply shortly after 7:30 a.m. in Crescent City and surges pounded the coastline throughout the day, with some waves reportedly exceeding 8 feet.

Early Friday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard announced it was suspending the search for a 25-year-old man who was swept off the beach near the mouth of the Klamath River. According to officials, the man and two other people had traveled to the coast to take photos of the incoming waves when all three were swept out to sea. According to the Coast Guard, two of the people were able to get safely back to shore but the third man was not.

Authorities had not released the man's identity as of the Times-Standard's deadline Friday.

According to the dispatch center for the Curry County Sheriff's Office in Oregon, four people were also swept off a beach near Brookings after venturing down to the shore to get a closer look at the surge waves. All were able to make it back to shore, and only minor injuries were reported, according to the dispatch center.

Though both harbors were safely evacuated, the surge waves caused extensive damage to the ports in Brookings and Crescent City. (read more)