A devastating earthquake hit Japan Friday afternoon, triggering a massive, 23-foot tsunami that swept away cars and houses. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the most powerful quake to hit Japan since 1923, has caused widespread damage to the island nation, causing buildings to collapse, roadways to open up, and subways, trains and Narita airport to shut down. It also prompted a “nuclear emergency” at the nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture, although there are no reports of leaking radiation.
Japanese media reports that hundreds of people are dead or missing, citing information from local and national police. Television news footage taken from helicopters shows the raging torrent of muddy water sweeping inland, submerging everything in its path, snapping power lines and uprooting trees, all while carrying with it the burning debris of destroyed houses.
The U.S. National Weather Service issued tsunami warnings to more than 50 countries, including Russia, Indonesia, Chile and New Zealand, as well as Hawaii, which saw approximately 6-foot waves in the early morning hours but reported no significant damage.