100 Boats Damaged in Santa Cruz

Harbor suffers $17 million in damage after Thursday's tsunami in Japan.

Sunday, Mar 13, 2011  |  Updated 1:31 PM PDT
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Dramatic Photos: Devastation in Japan

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SANTA CRUZ, CA - MARCH 11: A group of men try to save a Boston Whaler boat after it tipped over from a tsunami surge in a harbor on March 11, 2011 in Santa Cruz, California. A tsunami warning for Northern California was issued after an 8.9 earthquake hit Japan. (Photo by Kim White/Getty Images)

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As of Saturday, the Coast Guard had counted 18 sunken vessels in the Santa Cruz Harbor and 100 that were damaged, Coast Guard Lt. Renee McKinnon of sector San Francisco said.

The harbor suffered $17.1 million in damage not including the vessels, which hadn't been valued yet, she said.

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The U.S. Coast Guard and state Department of Fish and Game officials assessed the damage sustained in the wake of Thursday's deadly tsunami in Japan, a Coast Guard lieutenant said.

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan caused a tsunami that killed hundreds of people before traveling across the Pacific Ocean and temporarily elevating surf levels on parts of the California coast.

The Coast Guard also set up a safety zone in Santa Cruz, asking the public to stay away from the port while crews investigate the environmental impact and facilitate clean-up.

"It's still unsafe for mariners to transit in and out (the harbor) because of debris," McKinnon said. "The sunken vessels pose a risk to navigation, and there's pollution that may be in the water."

She said the Coast Guard had received a report of an oil sheen,
which a contractor was inspecting and cleaning up today.

Helicopters crews were also evaluating the area, and anyone who sees pollution is asked to contact the Coast Guard's National Response Center so state and city officials can keep track of environmental threats.

McKinnon didn't have an estimate for when the harbor might re-open.

"Each day we're assessing," she said. "Our priority is really public safety. We're asking them to continue to keep out of this port."

Pollution can be reported by calling (800) 424-8802.

Bay City News contributed to this report.
 

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