Massive Earthquake And Tsunami Hit Japan, Hundreds Dead

Terrible, terrible news for those who haven’t seen it yet. Keep the people of Japan in your prayers

A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan’s eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control.

Hours later, the tsunami hit Hawaii and warnings blanketed the Pacific, as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai. Another 88 were confirmed killed and 349 were missing. The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scale of the disaster.

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The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.

There are tsunami warnings for many parts of the Canadian and American west coasts, and on Pacific islands

Gauges at Midway Island in the Pacific registered a wave amplitude of about five feet, according to Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. In Hawaii, where an evacuation of coastal areas was ordered, a surge of about four feet was reported. Waves of that size have the potential to be devastating, Mr. Fryer said, because “there’s a tremendous amount of water” in them. But initial reports from Hawaii mentioned only minor damage.

And don’t forget there will certainly be danger from aftershocks, which could be large after such a huge earthquake. Interestingly, as I was writing this, one of the video feeds on Fox News was showing a Japanese nuclear plant, and the camera was shaking pretty bad, more than likely from an aftershock.

And for the conspiracy minded out there, this has nothing to do with the “supermoon” expected on March 19.

The BBC has some unbelievable photos, and the NY Times has video, though it looks like that page is so inundated with web hits that it is down at the moment. BBC has video as well.

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