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Tsunami Follows Earthquake in North Eastern Japan

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A massive earthquake off the north coast of Honshu, Japan was still sending aftershocks two hours later. Japanese reports say the quake registered 8.9 and there were aftershocks up to 7.1.

The earthquake unleashed a Tsunami on the north east coast of Japan, with waves reaching 33 feet or 10 metres. The waves pushed ships into the shore, turning many onto their sides.

When waves hit the coast, and carried on inland, they pushed cars and houses through the streets of towns on the coast.

Tokyo skyscrapers were seen visibly shaking and several fires were reported.

The NOAA National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning for Japan, Taiwan, Russia, the Mariana Islands, and All Hawaiian islands.

The NOAA report for Hawaii read:

A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii. Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property. A tsunami is a series of long ocean waves. Each individual wave crest can last 5 to 15 minutes or more and extensively flood coastal areas.

The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive. Tsunami wave heights cannot be predicted and the first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami waves efficiently wrap around islands. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face. The trough of a tsunami wave may temporarily expose the seafloor but the area will quickly flood again.

Extremely strong and unusual nearshore currents can accompany a tsunami. Debris picked up and carried by a tsunami amplifies its destructive power. Simultaneous high tides or high surf can significantly increase the tsunami hazard.

The estimated arrival time in Hawaii of the first tsunami wave is 0259 am HST Fri 11 Mar 2011 messages will be issued hourly or sooner as conditions warrant.

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