Large Earthquake Strikes Japan, Triggers Massive Tsunami
Matt | On 11, Mar 2011
The scenes from Japan look like something out of old Hurricane Katrina footage, a horror movie, and the set of the movie ‘2012’ all put together.
Utter destruction and loss of property and lives have been replayed on TV constantly in the nearly 12 hours since a 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeast Japan. It hit at 2:46 p.m. Japanese time (12:46 a.m. ET).
The earthquake’s epicenter was northeast of Sendai in northern Japan. The shaking could be felt over 230 miles away in the capital city of Tokyo, where people ran into the streets, left office buildings, and traffic came to a grinding halt from the shaking. Observers say the quake lasted several minutes and was very intense. Even 12 hours later, according to a CNN reporter, traffic is at a standstill in Tokyo for fear of more aftershocks.
Even in the few minutes after the tsunami originally hit Japan, the massive destruction was evident. Cars, boats, houses, people, trucks, and debris were washed away. An oil refinery caught on fire. There was damage to a nuclear plant. Roads and highways were washed over. The video footage from the Sendai area looks like the waves are just eating the land and everything in its path.
Japan is used to pretty strong earthquakes, as the country lies near some very active fault lines in the Pacific Ocean. But, even the most seasoned of earthquake survivors have said that this one was much stronger than anything they are used to. This is reported to be the fifth strongest earthquake on record since scientists began tracking them.
Asian countries were not the only ones on high alert because of tsunami waves. All nations bordering the Pacific coast were put under tsunami warning or watch. By Friday morning (Eastern time), waves began hitting the western islands of Hawaii. They were expected to reach North and South America (including Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington) later in the day.
In the wake of the tragedy, Japanese officials have made a formal request for aid from other countries. According to CNN, the U.S. is sending Navy ships to the area that have helicopters on board. There are already military personnel making estimates of the scope of damage in the hardest hit areas.
Above all, let’s keep the Japanese people in our thoughts and prayers. It doesn’t seem that any amount of preparedness could totally help anyone accept what has happened there.
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Video note: The above clip from Japan’s NHK is a compilation of their breaking news coverage of the tsunami as it began to happen. Strength and scope of damage estimates have been upgraded since the footage was shot.