At 2:46pm local time, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck Japan. "The Ring of Fire" is unfortunately living up to its name. Combined with the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the devastation in Japan proves that the Pacific Rim is where many of the world's most deadly and unpredictable seismic events occur. While there's a lot we still don't know about the Japan earthquake, here are a few things we do know:
One of the most powerful earthquakes on record, the quake was centered near Sendai, Japan, and caused widespread damage to the area. Tokyo (about 250 southwest of the center) was affected and the city's airports are currently closed. Aftershocks are also likely over the coming days and weeks. If you find yourself in one of the affected areas, remember to drop to the ground, take cover, hold on, and wait until the shaking stops.
The State Department has issued a travel warning: "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." Read full text.
The earthquake caused a tsunami as well. From Asia to Australia to the Americas, there continue to be warnings for many coastal areas. Some waves have already struck Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, but residents should be prepared for additional impact. Warning signs of a tsunami include the tide receding quickly; anyone in an affected area should move inland or to higher ground immediately.
Japan People Finder
Google quickly launched a public people finder to help locate earthquake victims.
Tsunami Warning Center
The NOAA's National Weather Service maintains a Pacific Tsunami Warning Center with live status reports.
State Department Travel Site
A terrific U.S. resource with regularly updated travel warnings and advisories.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
An excellent resource on emergency preparedness and what to do during specific types of disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis.
If you've found other great online resources, please let us know!