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After Japan quake, waves damage Northern California ports

Gov. Jerry Brown declares a state of emergency in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Del Norte and Humboldt counties. Near Crescent City, a man swept into the water while taking photographs in an evacuated area is still missing.

March 11, 2011|By Sam Allen, Alana Semuels and Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times
  • A tsunami warning is posted along Highway 17 leading to the coastal town of Santa Cruz, Calif.
A tsunami warning is posted along Highway 17 leading to the coastal town… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

Powerful waves damaged ports and harbors in four Northern California counties Friday, authorities said, sweeping a man out to sea who had been taking pictures of the incoming tsunami from Japan.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has issued a state of emergency in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Del Norte and Humboldt counties.

Near Crescent City, just south of the Oregon border, a huge wave swept away three men who ventured into an evacuated area at about 10 a.m. Friday, according to the Coast Guard. Two of the men swam to safety but one man who was taking photographs was missing.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake

The incident occurred at the mouth of the Klamath River, which is a popular beach and public recreation area, said Coast Guard Lt. Todd Vorenkamp.

In the tiny fishing community of Fort Bragg, surges of water ripped out docks and filled the water with debris, closing off exits and entrances to the port.

"It's pretty brutal," said Charles D. Smith, a fisherman who owns a boat called Miss Smith. "The ends of the docks are floating around all over the place."

In Santa Cruz, waves have "capsized several boats" at the yacht harbor, said Steve Clark, deputy chief of the Santa Cruz Police Department. Swells pushed and bumped boats together and broke some docks.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake

No significant tsunami action was observed in Southern California. The Santa Barbara marina and King Harbor in Redondo Beach were closed because of occasional intense tidal surges. Some operations in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were suspended earlier Friday.

RELATED:

Tsunami: L.A. executives experience quake in Japan

Tsunami: In Crescent City, worries about 'angry' ocean

sam.allen@latimes.com

alana.semuels@latimes.com

mike.anton@latimes.com

Los Angeles Times staff writers Rong-Gong Lin II and Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

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