The massive earthquake that struck Japan on Friday closed all ports and airports there, and coastal regions across the entire Pacific Ocean were blanketed with tsunami warnings and bracing for the impact.
The earthquake, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, occurred some 80 miles off the cost of Honshu, Japan’s main island, at a depth of 15 miles, triggering a tsunami that caused enormous devastation and widespread loss of life.
A 30-foot high tsunami struck the port of Sendai, about 186 miles northeast of Tokyo. Early news reports said that the tsunami was circulating in Tokyo Bay, closing several LNG terminals. The container port of Yokohama is also on the bay.
Initial reports in Japan said dozens of people had died in the tsunami, but the toll was likely to rise into the hundreds from the widespread devastation.
Authorities in Hawaii, some 3,800 miles away, ordered coastal areas evacuated and closed airports as they braced for the impact.
The United States issued a tsunami warning for the entire West Coast mainland from Los Angeles north to Washington state. They forecast a possible tsunami surge of up to six feet in coastal regions.
In Japan, tremors from the earthquake reached as far as Tokyo, according to local reports.
The tsunami pushed waters deep inland, carrying vessels along the way, destroying villages and causing fires along its path.
"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.
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