Monster #Earthquake/Tsunami Strikes Japan, State Dept Urges Americans Stay Away

The massive 8.9 earthquake hit Japan on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 02:46:23 PM (local time at epicenter)[March 10, 2011 at 12:46:23 AM (EST);  09:46:23 PM (PST)].

The US Embassy in Tokyo announced its office closure for the rest of the day and advised American citizens in Japan to listen to local news reports, check with local authorities and contact their neighborhood evacuation centers.

It has released a Warden Message containing a Tsunami Forecast Region Classification of Tsunami Warning/Advisory. 

Its updated Travel Alert advised U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Japan at this time.

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan at this time. Tokyo airports are currently closed; other airports in Japan may be closed or have restricted access. Public transportation, including trains and subways are closed in the Tokyo area, and service has been interrupted in other areas. Many roads have been damaged in the Tokyo area and in northern Japan.
U.S. citizens currently in Japan should contact family and friends in the United States to confirm their well-being at the earliest opportunity. Where internet and telephone services are not available, it may be possible to contact people using SMS (Cell text message) or other forms of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. U.S. citizens may contact the Department of State at and the emergency contact numbers below.

For information on the whereabouts and welfare of family and friends in Japan, please consult the State Department website or call the toll free number 1-888-407-4747, or 1-202-501-4444.

Read more here.

The Federal Times reported that all federal employees and their family members stationed in Japan are accounted for following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami citing an unnamed State Department official .  There are no reports of injuries or deaths among U.S. government personnel but apparently, the US embassy staff in Tokyo was moved to an alternate location. The Secretary of Defense traveling in Bahrain during the earthquake said thatall of our people are OK, our ships and military facilities are all in pretty good shape” and that “we are prepared to help them in any way we possibly can.”

Extracted from United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Map
Click here for larger map

The USGS says that the 03/11/2011 earthquake (preliminary magnitude 8.9) near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, occurred as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subduction zone interface plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates.

The March 11 earthquake was preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the previous two days, beginning on March 9th with an M 7.2 event approximately 40 km from the March 11 earthquake, and continuing with a further 3 earthquakes greater than M 6 on the same day.

The Japan Trench subduction zone has hosted 9 events of magnitude 7 or greater since 1973. The largest of these was an M 7.8 earthquake approximately 230 km to the north of the March 11 event, in December 1994, which caused 3 fatalities and almost 700 injuries. In June of 1978, an M 7.7 earthquake 75 km to the southwest caused 22 fatalities and over 400 injuries. In December of 2008, a sequence of 4 moderate earthquakes (M 5.3-5.8) occurred within 20 km of the March 11 event. In the first 12 hours following the March 11 earthquake, the region has experienced over a dozen aftershocks of M 5 or greater, the largest being M 5.7.

It looks like this is the biggest temblor to hit the country since we started keeping records. More details here.

AlertNet has the following updates. Read in full here:

  • Up to 300 bodies found in Sendai city, domestic news agency Jiji says.
  • A ship carrying 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo news agency reports.
  • Some 3,000 residents living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo, have been told to evacuate the area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano tells reporters.
  • A train is unaccounted for in one coastal area, Kyodo says.
  • Power cut to four million homes in and around Tokyo. Several fires blaze in Tokyo.
  • Bullet trains to the north of the country stopped. The government was to dispatch 900 rescue workers to stricken regions.
  • Countries covered by the warnings include Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

MSNBC reported that the cooling system failed at Fukushima No. 1 plant after the quake and that the U.S. Air Force has delivered coolant to the nuclear plant.

AlertNet is live blogging the Japan earthquake here.

Updated with items on USG employees in Japan @4:50 pm EST