7.9 Earthquake hits Japan UPDATE 8.8 UPDATE 8.9

Japan Earthquake fireball

Japan Earthquake fireball

While official reports only list one five 32 deaths at the moment, as you can see the toll from today’s earthquake and tsunami is bound to be a great deal higher, sadly. Estimates are in the thousands, but with widespread power outages, information is sketchy. Phone and SMS service are intermittent in many areas, and there are blackouts in a wide area.

Japan Earthquake Tokyo Fires

Japan Earthquake Tokyo Fires

I will be updating this post as long as I’m awake, so try refreshing every fifteen minutes or so. I’ll be up another hour I guess. Sorry, done for the night. There are resource links in the post for updates.

Japanese 7.9 Earthquake epicenter

Japanese 7.9 Earthquake epicenter

Twenty minutes ago Japan, still recovering from yesterday’s 7.2 quake, was hit with another: this one a 7.9 UPDATE 8.8 8.9 fully large enough to be called The Big One, on the Richter scale, severe by any measure. There is a warning along the coast for 10-foot metre tsunami waves, but as the epicenter was east of the landmass, the affected regions should be highly localized, unlike the tsunami in Thailand a few years ago. As you can see from the map below, the next landmass to the east is Canada. UPDATE: there are two tsunami waves, and one was measured at 33 feet.

Japanese Earthquake world map

Japanese Earthquake world map

Honshu is Japan’s larges island, directly west of the epicenter: as you can see from the map above, there have been 38 registered quakes in the immediate region in the last 24 hours. The two large red squares are yesterday’s 7.2 and today’s 7.9, and the red line is a fault line. Today’s quake did damage in Tokyo, halfway down the island, while the earthquake was towards the northern tip

Sandra Barron has uploaded a picture of her kitchen after the quake:

Japanese Earthquake kitchen

Japanese Earthquake kitchen

And two more moving updates:


Now THAT is thinking ahead.

And, finally, a report from the somewhat-mainstream media:

Here is footage of a family evacuating their home in Sendai, showing how hard it hit them. What’s most astonishing to me is how incredibly long it lasts, as well as how quickly they get out of the house. But why are they the only ones outside?


From the tweets of Steve Herman, we know that:

  • The tsunami has hit, and it is serious. Buildings in Iwate-ken have been swept out to sea. The Philippines has been put on tsunami alert. Predicted zones of affect: Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Chiba, Ibaraki.
  • Planes have been grounded and trains stopped across Northern Japan.
  • There are fires in Chiba, Tokyo and Yokohama.
  • The epicenter was only 10km off Miyagi
  • There have been landslides which have buried some people in the northern regions.

At times like these, a good reporter with the instincts of a great editor makes all the difference.

Steve Herman

@W7VOA ÜT: 37.562444,126.975594
Voice of America (VOA) Bureau Chief/Correspondent, based in Seoul, mainly covering NE Asia (Korean peninsula & Japan).
Don’t follow this blog for updates. Follow Steve Herman. He is a great reporter.
There are reportedly two tsunami waves, and one was measured at 33 feet. Estimated to be ten feet when it hits Hawaii (see the next post).
Here is video of the oil refinery blowing up. By the way, one of the nuclear power plants is on fire, too.
Japan Earthquake oil refinery fire

Japan Earthquake oil refinery fire

You can see a livestream of the events in Japanese or Al Jazeera also has good coverage. Here is CNN’s Livestream as well.

Japanese Earthquake crack in Tokyo

Japanese Earthquake crack in Tokyo

Here is video of the tsunami and consequent landslides.

and a map showing expected arrival times of the tsunami. Remember, the farther from the epicenter, the less intense the wave is likely to be. Current swells are reported at 3/4 meter, implying a 10 foot wave in Hawaii, although that remains to be seen. Hotel visitors in Waikiki are being told to move to the 5th or higher floor and wait for instructions. The west coast of North America is on tsunami alert, but that doesn’t mean it WILL hit (the last one was three inches!) just that we should be wary.


Japan Earthquake tsunami travel times

Japan Earthquake tsunami travel times

And here is absolutely unbelievable footage of a huge whirlpool that formed in the port of Uzumaki about two hours after the quake. If you look closely, you can see that there is a boat caught in there, absolutely unable to escape. I can only hope there are no people on board.

And if you’ve been Following me on Twitter (and I appreciate it) know that I didn’t go dark voluntarily. Twitter put me in Twitter Jail for tweeting too many times. I may not be able to get back on tonight, and besides, my laptop is literally overheating, I’ve got five livestream tabs open, two youtubes, so much going on. And my brain is just about as fried.

Good night, everyone. Take care of each other.

13 thoughts on “7.9 Earthquake hits Japan UPDATE 8.8 UPDATE 8.9

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  3. Thanks for this. Only you to find the wit and head space to know how to include Glenfiddich on a post about an earthquake. Bless your heart.

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  9. Great post, it’s so awful what’s happening over there. 2 of the Automattic staff are in the country but ok, thankfully.

    I think this may have been the most televised natural disaster yet.

  10. I think so. I saw there was video on YouTube within five minutes. Glad to year the staffers are okay.

    Earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear reactors exploding. What more can happen to Japan?

    I had a tasteless joke up, but when this happened I took it down again. Even I couldn’t be that tasteless in the face of this latest event.

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