RALEIGH -- An enormous 8.9 magnitude earthquake shook northern Japan Friday. Reports of massive tsunamis, fires and major damage continue to come in. New death toll reports from Japanese police says between 200 and 300 bodies washed up in a northeastern coastal area. Hundreds are also still missing.
There have been at least 20 aftershocks at this point. It triggered tsunamis with up to 20 foot waves and tsunami warnings for dozens of countries including the entire west coast of the U.S.
The effects are being felt in the United States. People in Hawaii sought higher ground as waves estimated at six to eight feet high are began breaking along their shores in the early morning hours. The West Coast is also beginning to see tsunami waves.
In Tokyo, which is about 230 miles south of the epicenter, the quake rattled buildings and toppled cars off bridges. The quake sent thousands running into the streets. However, both airports in Tokyo are reported to be open.
The U.S. geological survey says the quake started near Sendai City, about two and a half hours away from the capitol. It triggered tsunamis washing cars and homes away. The city's airport is now completely underwater.
This is the second major earthquake to rock Japan this week. A 7.2 magnitude quake hit near Honshu, Japan Wednesday. Japan issued a state of emergency at a nuclear plant after a cooling system failure. There is no report of a radiation leak at this point.
An American in Tokyo said the quake was an unforeseen experience for him.
"It was absolutely unlike anything I've ever experienced before," said Matt Alt. "I've been living here for eight years now, and this was quite simply the biggest, longest lasting earthquake I've ever experienced here. "
The tsunami warning has been expanded to include South America all the way north to Alaska and Canada.
President Barack Obama issued this statement Friday morning: Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial.
State Department Contact Information
CONSULAR ASSISTANCE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN JAPAN
Online Information: Monitor travel.state.gov and the Embassy Tokyo websites for the latest updates.
- If you have concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in Japan, please send the State Department an e-mail at JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov
- If you have concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in the Tsunami zone outside of Japan, please send us an e-mail at PacificTsunamiUSC@state.gov
- E-mail inquiries are strongly preferred. The Department's emergency assistance center number is 1-888-407-4747 (Calling from outside the U.S. + 1-202-501-4444) if citizens are unable to use or access e-mail.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PERSONNEL INQUIRIES
- U.S. Forces Japan reports that all personnel have been accounted for, and there are no reports of injuries.
-The Department of Defense instructs that family members of Department of Defense personnel should call 1-800-342-9647 to inquire about their loved ones or contact the individual unit command directly for more specific information.
JAPANESE AND OTHER CITIZENS
- If you are calling regarding a Japanese citizen, please contact the nearest Japanese Embassy (Washington - 202-238-6700) or Consulate.
-If you are calling regarding a citizen of a third country, please contact that country’s Embassy or Consulate. Contact information for foreign Embassies and Consulates in the United States is available in the Country Specific Information links.