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US damages bill from tsunami rises

Lost homes, sunken boats and damaged piers have caused tsunami damage estimates to jump into the tens of millions of pounds in Hawaii and California.

In Hawaii, the rough estimate combines damage to homes, businesses, hotels, boats, piers and government infrastructure.

The most serious damages were near Kealakekua Bay and Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. Haleiwa and Keehi Lagoon on Oahu, as well as areas of Maui and Molokai, also lost significant value.

At least 25 boats sank at Keehi Lagoon, and an undetermined number of homes may have been destroyed along the Big Island's west coast beyond the two previously reported, including one that floated out to sea.

No one was killed or injured during the tsunami, which arrived in Hawaii early Friday morning as a result of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan. Additional losses may pile up because thousands of Japanese tourists have already cancelled holidays to Hawaii since the tsunami, dealing a crushing blow to the state's tourism-dependent economy.

It will take months to clear debris from piers and the ocean floor, and much longer to repair damaged shorelines, said Ed Underwood, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation administrator for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

At least 200 boats at Keehi Lagoon on Oahu were damaged when their floating docks broke loose, pushing them out to sea and then pulling them back in when waves crashed toward shore.

In California, a state official estimated that state-wide damage from last week's surge exceeds £20 million.

The damage in Santa Cruz Harbour alone is estimated at nearly £10 million. The harbour is housing 58 commercial fishing vessels not able to leave the harbour for at least a week until it reopens, said Lisa Ekers, director of the Santa Cruz Port District. She said she was also working to get 60 people living on boats back into their homes.

Along the state's North Coast, officials at the heavily damaged Crescent City Harbour were still working on totalling the value of the damage. All told, 53 vessels were damaged, including 15 that sank, said Alexia Retallack, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Game.

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