Devastating Earthquake, Tsunami Hit Japan -- Tsunami Warnings Across Pacific Ocean

An earthquake of 8.9 magnitude hit Japan last night, triggering a massive tsunami that washed up giant ships onto dry land, and swept houses out to sea. The earthquake was thelargest the ever recorded -- a tenth of a point higher than the 2010 Chilean quake -- and the ensuing tsunami waves topped 10 meters. This morning, rescue teams discovered 200-300 bodies off the coast of Sendai, the closest city to the quake's epicenter.

As of this morning, a tsunami watch was issued for most of the Pacific Ocean, including the entire West Coast of the US, Canada and Mexico. Waves are expected to hit Oregon at around 7 AM PST. Specific details for the US here. In Hawaii, the watch was upgraded to a warning; waves hit Kauai this morning at around 3 AM local time, as tsunami sirens warned residents to reach higher ground. Three-foot waves were recorded on the islands, with warnings that they could get higher.

Last night, President Obama readied FEMA to assist the Pacific Coast and Hawaii, and issued a statement pledging support to Japan.

“The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy,” Obama said.

The U.S. State Department issued an alert saying U.S. citizens should avoid non-essential travel to Japan.

Obama said he and the first lady “send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones.”

Videos and photos showed the extent of the devastation across Japan, as fires burned from the quake and waves swept up the coast. Here, raw video of the tsunami overtaking Kamaishi, via Kos:

AlterNet / By

Posted at March 11, 2011, 3:40am

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