At 2:46 pm local time, a massive earthquake hit Japan, causing between 200 and 300 deaths and hundreds more reported missing (at the time of this writing). Thousands of residents are evacuating in the wake of the tsunami that followed, and coastal flooding has resulted in extensive damage to rice fields, homes, and entire towns. The quake itself sparked at least 80 fires, according to Japan’s Kyodo News Service, and residents have felt 67 aftershocks with magnitudes as big as 7.1.
The epicenter was approximately 230 miles to the northeast of Tokyo. Japan is no stranger to earthquakes, but this 8.9 event is being called the biggest in 100 years. Waves from the tsunami have rocked the Pacific Ocean and reached the shores of Hawaii. They are expected to reach the west coast of the United States this morning but serious damage is not expected. Residents of California are not, however, advised to visit the shores today.
The Red Cross is now accepting donations for earthquake relief.
(Top pic via Business Insider, Story via CNN)