A horrific 8.9 magnitute earthquake about 80 miles off the coast of Japan triggered a devastating tsunami that crashed into the island nation at about 2:20 am local time today. The deadly wave, which measured 23-feet-tall, has killed at least 60 people, and injured countless more. Blackouts caused by the quake spread as far as Russia and South America. Parts of the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and much of the West Coast — from Washington state to the California-Mexico border — are now in danger of a possible tsunami hit.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a tsunami warning/advisory for Hawaii, the West Coast and Alaska. Walls of water as high as 6-feet could begin hitting Hawaii as early as 3am local time (5am PST). By about 7am PST, the tsunami could begin to hit parts of Oregon, followed by the Washington and California coasts. While residents on the Oregon coast have been urged to evacuate, NOAA officials say the waves to hit California should be relatively small, and are expected to cause no major damage.
In Japan, the situation is far worse. According to the United States Geological survey, the 8.9-magnitude quake is the fifth largest earthquake on Earth in over 100 years of recorded history. Cars, boats and houses were swept away as the resulting killer wave spread its path of destruction, which covered a 1,300-mile stretch of coast line that affected dozens of cities and villages.
The Japanese government has declared a state of emergency at a nuclear power plant after a cooling system failed. Eleven of Japan’s nuclear reactors were shut down immediately following the quake.
A number of Japan’s major industrial plants have been shut down in the wake of the disaster, including factories of Sony, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and beermaker Sapporo, Bloomberg reports. One Honda worker was killed after a wall collapsed on top of him. Thirty other workers at that factor suffered injuries. Several employees at a Panasonic factory were also hurt in the quake.
Here are some online resources for keeping up-to-date on the disaster in Japan, and the tsunamis expected to hit US shores:
- NY Times live blog (with YouTube video updates)
- Japanese Ustream channel (live video)
- Wall Street Journal live blog
- MSNBC live blog
- Google crisis response
- KATU 2 Portland (live video)
Updated at 6:30am PST with additional details