The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii has widened its tsunami warning to include most of the Pacific Ocean region, including South America. The warning issued Thursday at 0730 GMT follows a massive 8.9 earthquake that has struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. It includes Russia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific coast of South America, including Mexico, Chile and Peru.
In Guam, authorities are urging those residing along coastlines to seek high ground after a tsunami warning was issued for the U.S. territory. The agency says that people are advised to evacuate low areas and seek ground higher than 50 feet above sea level and 100 feet inland. The agency says the tsunami is expected to hit in about 14 hours or 7 a.m. Saturday. The U.S. territory of the Northern Marians Islands was also under the warning.
In the Philippines, thousands of residents near the country's eastern coast have been ordered to evacuate amid the tsunami warning. The first wave of the tsunami was expected to hit the eastern coast between 5 pm and 7 pm (0900-1100 GMT).The expected tsunami was projected to be 1 meter high. "All residents in coastal areas facing the Pacific should evacuate now. We will announce when it's safe to return home." (Photo - tsunami carries buildings across waters in Kamaishi city port in this still image taken from video footage)
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." 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 first NOT being the highest.
The 8.9-magnitude Japan earthquake 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. "When you jump a magnitude from 7 to 8, it's not 10 times stronger, it's a 1000 times stronger. With an 8.8 earthquake that shallow, that close to shore, THERE WILL BE MORE THAN ONE TSUNAMI."
"You could tell this was different, instantly ... you literally couldn't stand on your feet the ground was shaking so hard," said a man 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."
Raw video footage of Japanese tsunami
Massive 8.9-magnitude quake strikes Japan - Tsunami washes away cars, buildings in Fukushima. A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan's northeastern coast Friday afternoon, shaking buildings in Tokyo for several minutes and sending people out into the streets. Japanese television showed major tsunami damage in northern Japan on Friday. Public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by tsunami in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture. A tsunami warning was in effect for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii.
The quake struck at 2:46 p.m. Friday at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers), about 80 miles (125 kilometers) off the eastern coast, about 240 miles northeast of Tokyo. In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. Footage on national broadcaster NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks. Police and coast guard officials said they were assessing possible damage from the quake. Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude temblor on Wednesday.
A shockwave from an X-Class flare hit the earth during a 24 hour window of when Japan was hit by the quake. There have been connections to heightened solar activity being one of the many possible triggers of earthquakes. One meteorologist has studied geomagnetic field patterns in space weather since the early 2000s. "I may just be a weather guy, but solar weather has had my interest for years when I noticed the connection. Many past quakes have been connected with solar flare events, including other events such as Gamma Ray Bursts, or GRBs. I am pretty certain these have connections to triggering earthquakes, however I do not yet understand it. Japan's activity may not have happened if it was not for the solar flare activity. Others in weather laughed at me for years for what I worked on in quake triggers, however this just may help put that to rest". (NOAA tsunami graphic showing the travel times from the epicenter of the quake)
Japan’s Earthquake Research Committee had warned of a 70%chance that a great, magnitude-eight quake would strike Tokyo within the next 30 years. The last major quake to hit Tokyo was in 1923, when the Great Kanto Earthquake claimed more than 140,000 lives, many of them in fires. In 1855, the Ansei Edo quake also devastated the city. More recently, the 1995 Kobe earthquake killed more then 6,400 people.
LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
6.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.7 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
6.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.8 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
6.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
6.2 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
7.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
6.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
6.4 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
6.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
8.9 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 SOUTHERN EAST PACIFIC RISE
5.2 MINDORO, PHILIPPINES
6.5 BALI SEA
5.0 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.3 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.3 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.4 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.7 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.4 MYANMAR-CHINA BORDER
JAPAN - At 8.9 on the Richter scale, today's quake is bigger than the 1995 Kobe earthquake (6.9) in which more than 5,000 people died. It is the LARGEST EARTHQUAKE IN 7 YEARS IN THE WORLD. The BIGGEST QUAKE IN THE REGION IN 140 YEARS. The quake has hit the north-west of Japan, triggering a four-metre tsunami that sent ships and cars crashing into coastal towns. Aftershocks were continuing on Friday, an hour after the quake hit. The quake struck 370 km from Tokyo at a depth of 24 km. It was felt as far away as Beijing. It has prompted tsunami warnings around the Pacific. Tsunami warnings has been issued for the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Russia, Taiwan, Guam Island, Micronesia, Hawai , the Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Kuril Islands, Indonesia and Nauru.Officials are warning the tsunami could reach 10 metres high. Waves have hit Tokyo. Numerous injuries have been reported by police in Japan's Miyagi prefecture and there is widespread flooding in the area. The quake triggered at least six fires in Tokyo. Many were injured after a roof caved in during a school graduation ceremony at a hall in east Tokyo. (photo)
CHINA - rescuers search town after quake kills 25. Rescuers in southwest China battled rolling aftershocks Friday as they scoured toppled buildings for survivors of an earthquake that killed 25 people and injured 250 near the country's border with Myanmar. The earthquake that struck Yunnan province's mountainous Yingjiang county around midday Thursday caused more than 1,000 houses and apartment buildings, and parts of a supermarket and a hotel to buckle and fall. More than 127,000 of the county's 300,000 people have been displaced by the temblor, which Chinese authorities measured at a magnitude 5.8.
Police, firefighters and soldiers rushed to the area to pull out people trapped in the rubble, including a man and girl stuck in the stairwell of a four-story building. Rescuers with sniffer dogs searched through the night. The chances of finding more people alive was shrinking. Many of the buildings in the area were not built to resist earthquakes and fell easily. Survivors spent the night in tents while seven aftershocks measuring up to 4.7 in magnitude shook the town, state media reported. CCTV showed people eating meals cooked in large pots over portable stoves in the morning next to tents set up in a public square. 25 people have been killed, while another 250 people were injured, 134 of them seriously. The mountainous area is 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, close to the border with Myanmar, and is home to many ethnic groups on both sides of the border, which sees heavy traffic in people and goods. The quake-prone region has been hit by more than 1,000 minor tremors over the past two months.
There was no word Friday from authorities across the border in Myanmar. The Myanmar Meteorological Department released a statement Thursday saying a quake had hit some 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Mandalay. The statement did not mention injuries or damage. Authorities in the tightly ruled country tend not to immediately discuss the effects of natural disasters. Much of the area on the Myanmar side has been under the control of various armed ethnic groups, who have battled the Myanmar military to remain free from central government control.
HAWAII - On Thursday, Kilauea volcano's latest eruption had decreased in activity and taken a breather from spewing out lava for five days. The Kamoamoa fissure eruption that started Saturday "paused" by 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, with lava starting to recede from the channels a few hours earlier. Seismic activity and sulfur dioxide levels are also down but remain above normal. "Our take is that it's paused. We're not using the word 'stopped.'"
Kamoamoa has paused before, but not for this long. And a break can last anywhere from hours to days. Scientists headed back to the remote east rift zone Thursday to see if the eruption had restarted but no activity was observed as of 3 p.m. HT. Kamoamoa has been unleashing loads of lava and gasses since the fissure cracked open Saturday. Lava shot as high as 100 feet and low-level fountains created several fiery lava flows, blanketing more than 120 acres. The latest eruption is in the same area of the east rift where it started erupting 28 years ago.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted with greater fury on Wednesday - The frequently restive Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii spewed a plume of lava 160 feet tall on Wednesday, more than twice as high as molten rock shot into the sky when eruptions flared anew on Saturday. As eruptions continued at two spots, seismic activity grew more vigorous and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas emissions peaked at 10,000 tons per day, over 30 times last weekend's levels, before dropping off again by more than half.
The 2,000-degree Fahrenheit molten lava from Kilauea's summit and the newly ruptured Kamoamoa fissure have destroyed 78 acres of rain forest since Saturday and buried 162 acres of park land. The ground around the eruptions has continued to collapse, and forests downwind of the fissure were choked with volcanic fumes that are toxic to the vegetation. "We've been fortunate that we've had showers and rain. One of the biggest unknown dangers is the spread of sulfur dioxide gas. It's invisible, noxious and toxic. When our rangers are in the field, they use respirators to filter out the harmful gases."
No injuries to people or damage to residential property has been reported since Kilauea roared back to life on Saturday. USGS scientists continued to monitor the activity. Kilauea is one of five volcanoes that formed the Big Island, officially known as the island of Hawaii. Periodic eruptions of the volcano have destroyed 213 homes since the volcano emerged from a period of dormancy in 1983. The latest episode began with the 370-foot collapse of the floor of the Pu'u O'o crater and opening of the 535-yard long Kamoamoa fissure on March 5.
TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES -
TSUNAMI - Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter. In various locations along Japan's coast, TV footage showed severe flooding, with dozens of cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by waters. A large ship swept away by the tsunami rammed directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, according to footage on public broadcaster NHK. Officials were trying to assess possible damage from the quake but had no immediate details.
The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a 7.4-magnitude one about 30 minutes later. The U.S. Geological Survey upgraded the strength of the first quake to a magnitude 8.9. The meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific coast of Japan. National broadcaster NHK was warning those near the coast to get to safer ground. Thirty minutes after the quake, tall buildings were still swaying in Tokyo and mobile phone networks were not working. Japan's Coast Guard has set up task force and officials are standing by for emergency contingencies.
Japan issued its top tsunami warning after the massive 8.9 magnitude offshore quake on Friday, with reports of 'numerous' injuries and ships being washed ashore by waves. The US Geological Survey first upgraded the quake to 8.8 from 7.9.
Numerous injuries were reported by police in Japan's Miyagi prefecture and there were reports of scores of cars floating in Iwate prefecture harbour. The meteorological agency issued its top-level evacuation alerts for the entire Japanese coast, warning of a tsunami of up to six metres (20 feet). A tsunami warning was issued for Japan, Russia and the Mariana Islands. The quake struck about 382 kilometres (237 miles) northeast of Tokyo. Smoke could be seen rising from a building in Tokyo port. Shinkansen bullet trains stopped when the quake struck.
TROPICAL STORMS -
No current tropical cyclones.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
AUSTRALIA - No end in sight for drenched north Queensland. Two Queensland towns are isolated, homes inundated and food supplies dwindling after days of torrential rain in the area dubbed "ground zero" for Cyclone Yasi. The Cassowary Coast has been pounded by a massive monsoon for the past five days and it's not expected to let up for the next few days. Tully Heads and Hull Heads were isolated with water 80cm deep across the road in some parts. Mission Beach, Bingle Bay and Cardwell were isolated overnight but police advised that roads re-opened this morning.
Police considered evacuating Tully Heads yesterday but a decision was made to drop 1000 sandbags instead so locals could protect their homes. "A number of houses have been flooded from drains and small creeks that had backed up. They have a lot of debris in them and the water couldn't escape." An EMQ helicopter is being used to drop medical supplies to residents in rural properties in Ellerbeck and in the Aboriginal community of Jumbun.
Locals in cut-off areas in the Cassowary Coast Council were calling for food and fuel. The Bruce Highway is cut in several places in the region and the Department of Transport has urged that all non-essential travel south of Innisfail be delayed until floodwaters recede. The heavy rain is not expected to let up until next week.
The monsoon trough, that spans hundreds of kilometres from the Gulf Country to the tropical coast, had been near to stationary since Monday. It is working with a tropical low and an upper level trough to bring the massive rainfalls. The weather systems will keep dumping rain on the areas worst-affected from Cyclone Yasi until next Tuesday. Since 9am (AEST) yesterday, South Mission Beach received 139mm of rain, Cardwell 97mm and Tully 69mm.