POSTED: Friday, March 11, 2011 - 12:43pm
UPDATED: Saturday, March 12, 2011 - 9:52pm
NBC33 UPDATE: According to the Kyodo News Agency (Japan), the official missing persons tally is around 88,000.
JAPAN (NBC33) - An 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the largest in modern Japanese history, struck off the northeast coast of Japan today, triggering a massive 23-foot tsunami that devastated the nation and prompted a nuclear emergency.
The quake hit about 80 miles off of the eastern coast of the country, which places the epicenter roughly 240 miles northeast of Tokyo.
Between 200 and 300 bodies were found at the coastal city of Sendai, which was closest to the epicenter of the quake. Japanese police say 137 more people are confirmed as dead, with another 531 missing and 627 injured.
The massive quake forced the government to make citizens evacuate that lived near a nuclear power plant in Onahama, a city 170 miles north of Tokyo. The plant’s reactor didn’t leak any radiation out, but its core was still hot even after being shut down.
A tsunami resulting from the earthquake dealt massive damage as well. Surging several miles inland before dissipating, the waves took large fishing boats and other vessels and thrust them into cities streets and neighborhoods. Cars were also seen bobbing in the excess water that ravaged coastal roadways.
Highways to the coastal areas were hit hard by the tsunami. Communications systems within the country were severely damaged. Trains were suspended, leaving many people stuck in stations, waiting. Airports, including Tokyo’s Narita Airport, are indefinitely closed.
Overall, 1,300 miles of coastline have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Twenty countries are under tsunami alert, including the state of Hawaii.