11 March 2011

8.9 Earthquake Causes Major Damage in Northern Japan

Key points

A powerful tsunami has swept across a large area of northern Japan causing major damage, flooding towns and sweeping away buildings. It was triggered by a 8.9-magnitude earthquake

Police say up to 300 bodies have been found in Sendai, the city that was worst-hit. Many more people are missing

Tsunami warnings were issued for virtually the entire Pacific region. The first waves have now reached the mainland of the United States along the Oregon coast. Earlier, tsunami waves about 1m high flooded several beaches on Hawaii

Relatively minor waves also reached the Philippines, the Kuril Islands and Taiwan

Live page reporters: Yaroslav Lukov, Rob Jones, David Gritten and David Walker

All times in GMT

Massive 8.9 Earthquake Triggers Tsunami from Japan to Oregon

Earthquake-triggered tsunami waves sweep along Iwanuma in northern Japan, March 11, 2011. The magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan's eastern coast, unleashing a 13-foot tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland. (Kyodo News/AP Photo)

A tsunami wave reached the West Coast of the U.S. this morning with threats of waves as tall as nine feet that could strike from California to Alaska.

Residents along the northern California and Oregon coasts reported seeing the tell-tale sign of an impending tsunami -- the waterline quickly withdrawing from the beach prior to large incoming waves.
The tsunami, which has claimed hundreds of lives in Japan, triggered warning sirens across the Pacific and led to evacuations as far away as Hawaii and Oregon.
By the time the tsunami reached California around 7:45 a.m. PST, it had soaked Hawaii's beaches but done little lasting damage there.
Warning sirens began blaring in some Oregon coastal communities in the small hours of the morning, and residents were urged to seek higher ground.
Orgeon officials said highways were congested with residents evacuating low lying ares near Florence.
Sam McAlmond, a resident of Gold Beach, Ore., chose not to evacuate, but is prepared to leave his home if it becomes necesary.
"This doesn't happen too often. We liked to see it if and when anything happens," he said of the tsunami. "We have all of our necessary equipment -- fresh water and food. Filled up the tank with gas and there is an escape route."
McAlmond said he had not seen any significant waves from his beach front home.
In California, the city of San Francisco activated it's emergency operations response team and closed its coastal highway. All coastal access to San Francisco area beaches have been closed.
The 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan Friday afternoon local time, triggering a tsunami that is speeding across the Pacific Ocean at speeds of 500 mph, as fast as a jet airplane.

Houses are shown in flame while the Natori river floods over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area. (Yasushi Kanno/The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP Photo)

TV footage shows boats, cars and trucks floating in water after a tsunami hit the town of Kamaishi in northern Japan. The ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan's eastern coasts. (ABC News)

People gather outside Sendai station after a powerful earthquake hit northern, March 11, 2011

Traffic is jammed on a road in Sendai city, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, after a powerful earthquake, the largest in Japan's recorded history slammed the eastern coast, March 11, 2011.

Houses and others burn in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, March 11, 2011 after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast earlier in the day

Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture, March 11, 2011 after a massive earthquake rocked Japan

Waves of tsunami hit residences after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, March 11, 2011. The largest earthquake in Japan's recorded history slammed the eastern coast. 

People watch the aftermath of tsunami tidal waves covering a port at Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2011.

Earthquake-triggered tsumanis sweep shores along Iwanuma in northern Japan, March 11, 2022. The magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan's eastern coast, unleashing a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland

A worker inspects a caved-in section of the Joban Motorway near Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, after one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Japan slammed its eastern coast, March 11, 2011

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