A tsunami warning has been issued for at least 20 countries and numerous Pacific islands, including Japan, coastal Russia and the Marcus Islands, the Northern Marianas, Wake Island, Taiwan and Guam after a massive earthquake struck off the coast of Japan.
People along coastal areas are urged to evacuate, emergency officials warned.
The tsunami could cause damage "along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii," warned the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a bulletin issued at 9:31 p.m. Thursday local Hawaiian time. "Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property."
Waves are expected to hit Hawaii around 3 a.m. Friday local time.
Tsunamis are a series of long ocean waves that can last five to 15 minutes and cause extensive flooding in coastal areas. A succession of waves can hit -- often the highest not being the first, said CNN International meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.
A tsunami is sweeping across the Pacific Ocean after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Honshu Island, Japan. Japan's NHK showed footage of cars, boats and buildings -- some of them ablaze -- being swept inland in Miyagi Prefecture.
The temblor is the largest earthquake since the 9.0 earthquake struck the Banda Aceh area of Indonesia on December 26, 2004, causing a massive tsunami that killed tens of thousands in more than a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean.
Tsunami waves can travel at speeds of 800 kilometers (497 miles) per hour. The earthquake, initially reported as a 7.8 earthquake, was upgraded to an 8.8 quake. The epicenter was 373 kilometers (231 miles) away from the capital, Tokyo, the United States Geological Survey said, and 24 kilometers deep -- a relatively shallow depth.
"When you jump a magnitude from 7 to 8, it's not 10 times stronger, it's a 1000 times stronger," said Cabrera. "With an 8.8 earthquake that shallow, that close to shore, there will be more than one tsunami."
The quake struck about 2:40 p.m. local time Friday in Tokyo, interrupting a sunny spring afternoon.
"You could tell this was different, instantly ... you literally couldn't stand on your feet the ground was shaking so hard," said Matt Alt, who lives on the west side of Tokyo. "We have earthquakes from time to time, but we never feel anything like the literal magnitude of this quake."
Fires were reported around Tokyo, and a large fire at a Chiba Prefecture oil refinery northeast of Tokyo sent billowing black smoke into the sky, NHK reported.
Indian Ocean tsunami killed about 250,000 people in 14 countries. That tsunami, which washed away entire communities, caused nearly $10 billion in damage and more casualties than any other tsunami in history, according to the United Nations. (CNN)
Comments - 25
unl Saturday, 12 March 2011 05:22 AM
Acording to SF Theory this happend because the Japanese government..
Cha Friday, 11 March 2011 12:47 PM
I realize this is really, really, really bad but I hope the media won't forget all the people being killed in Libya and focus all their attention on Japan.
eli Sunday, 13 March 2011 05:04 AM
if theres no God then why is the nature warning us that if we don't turn to God more horrible things can come to us???????????
Gona Friday, 11 March 2011 01:01 PM
Call off the world cup ASAP
nagu Friday, 11 March 2011 03:13 PM
Ranil will say...God is angry with Japanese Government...Like he said the SL floods are becoz God is angry with SL GOSL...
channa Friday, 11 March 2011 03:15 PM
Will Ranil say the GOD is angry with Japanese Government?
Janice Andrews Saturday, 12 March 2011 08:31 AM
May God's loving arms surround Japan, may the Japanese people turn to Him in whom there is no end.x
Sheldon Friday, 11 March 2011 04:21 PM
Don't be selfish... God bless earthlings...
uditha Friday, 11 March 2011 04:30 PM
God is not only for us you and me. May god bless all of us- "SIYALU SATHVAYO" BE DEVOID OF THIS CATASTROPHIES.
prabath Friday, 11 March 2011 09:13 AM
God Bless us...!!
Prabhath Patabendi Friday, 11 March 2011 09:30 AM
If an earthquake happened near Galle face tomorrow Are we ready to face it as a nation ?
faslan Friday, 11 March 2011 09:50 AM
i think japan situated near the pacipic plate boundary thats why the faced severe
GanjaRabbit Friday, 11 March 2011 07:46 PM
You unfeeling callous people should keep politics out of it - this is a sad situation.
Shivanka David Friday, 11 March 2011 10:19 AM
Hope there's no harm cause to innocent precious lives.
Angoda Anil Friday, 11 March 2011 08:23 PM
Lets Pray for the Japanese people and hope they will have the strength to take this to comfort each other.
Oyage sudu kella Friday, 11 March 2011 10:24 AM
sajith Friday, 11 March 2011 10:22 PM
There is no god and never was.
Jay Ranaweera Friday, 11 March 2011 10:40 PM
No No No, Ranil will say that this is due to the curse invoked on Mahinda Rajapakse!
Godaya Saturday, 12 March 2011 12:55 AM
When more and more people forget the existence of a Creator and act against God's will, He reminds us of his presence one way or another.
Basil Saturday, 12 March 2011 01:56 AM
As Japanese are good friends we should send our qualified personnel immediately for rescue operations.
DAMTHEMAN Saturday, 12 March 2011 02:00 AM
Aith Loweth Naa
ferdyask Friday, 11 March 2011 11:21 AM
Just think about 2012-12-21
Nihal Amarasekera Saturday, 12 March 2011 03:53 AM
Nature takes it's course; life is like a dew drop on a blade of grass; so lets try to be good as best as possible before the dew drop evaporates.
Muraly Friday, 11 March 2011 11:51 AM
Natural disasters are occurring frequently now, Especially in Asia warming up for the final in 2012.
donkey Saturday, 12 March 2011 04:16 AM
God bless those people!
Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.