Deadly tsunami slams into Japan, races across Pacific
A 30-foot tsunami has slammed into the eastern coast of Japan following one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, causing destruction and damage of mammoth proportions across the country.
The 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of just 10 kilometres, even shallower than the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that caused staggering destruction in the Haitian capital, Port-Au-Prince in 2010.
Across half the world, tsunami warnings have been issued. Almost every country with a coast on the Pacific Ocean has signalled a tsunami alert and hundreds of thousands of people living in coastal areas are being advised to seek higher ground.
Since the quake struck, Japan, along with nearby countries, has been struck by as many as 50 aftershocks, many reaching or exceeding 6-magnitude, leading Japanese authorities to issue further tsunami warnings.
The scale of destruction is extreme. The tsunami swept several miles inshore, swallowing everything in its path. Horrific images on Japanese television showed the wall of broiling water devouring bridges, roads, farms, houses and vehicles, churning into a broth of deadly debris.
According to initial reports, over 1,000 have already been confirmed killed. Authorities have announced 200 to 300 bodies were found in the north-eastern coastal city of Sendai, with a further 349 people missing. The death toll for the nation is likely to be much higher given the scale of the disaster.
Although Japan has experienced powerful earthquakes in the past, it has never endured an 8.9-magnitude one and experts have agreed the situation is unprecedented for the Japanese government, which remained on high alert Friday night.
A nuclear power plant just 170 kilometres outside the capital, Tokyo, was shutdown in the hours after the quake when its cooling system failed, causing the nuclear core to over-heat. No radiation leak has been reported, but thousands of residents living near the reactor have been ordered to evacuate. At the time of writing the plant’s core had still not begun to cool, despite an all-out shutdown.
At least two other nuclear plants reported problems in the aftermath of the quake, though the Japanese government has not released further details.
The national public transport system, world famous for its efficiency and time-keeping, has been brought to its knees, in Tokyo and wider northern Japan, all train services have been suspended, while major roads and highways have been either destroyed or closed due to damage.
The level of disruption and chaos is immense. Tokyo Airport has been shut down stranding tens of thousands of passengers,
Authorities in countries across the Pacific are bracing for similar damage as the tsunami races out across the world’s largest ocean.