Magnitude 8.9 Earthquake Hits Japan

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan Friday.

Update: March 11th 7:35 p.m. (From Jessica Harthorn)

Authorities in Japan have widened the evacuation area around a quake-rattled nuclear plant.

The cooling system for the plant in Fukushima Prefecture failed after the massive quake caused a power outage.

Plans to vent steam to release some of the pressure that has built inside the reactor have been delayed because of the continued loss of power.

Officials now say radiation levels inside the plant have surged to a thousand times normal levels and some radiation has seeped from the plant.

Around three-thousand people had already been evacuated from the area, and officials are now calling for more people to move back.

To learn more go to NBC's web site.

Update: March 11th 4:55 p.m. (From Dan Armstrong)

The devastation of the earthquake in Japan is being felt around the world and right here in Mid-Michigan by those who have loved ones in Japan.

"He said it was bad," says Anika Lawson of Bay County's Bangor Township. She turned on the news Friday morning to find out about the earthquake. Her dad, Raymond Sewell, lives there with his Japanese wife.

"He sent me a text saying he was okay. They're high on a mountain, quite a ways from the water."

That two o'clock text Friday afternoon was the only information she received from him.

The message was cut off, and she hasn't heard from him since.

He lives on the small island of Hokkaido, Japan's second largest island, where he feels charges almost daily.

"In Japan, everything is built really well there to withstand the constant charge."

While he wasn't affected by the initial quake, his daughter is concerned about what happens next.

"I didn't know about the tsunami. They're really close, the waves has to be big right there at the epicenter. Even with that magnitude and the 20 aftershocks, they're still having aftershocks."

In the meantime, Anika waits for updates hoping her father will make it out all right.

Anika was supposed to visit her father in Japan this July.

But now, she's wondering if she'll be able to go because of the devastation.

Update: March 11th 3:54 p.m. (From Elizabeth MacFarland)

NBC25 caught up with a woman whose family lives in Hawaii. Hawaii was hit with Tsunami waves up to seven feet high that were trigged by the Japan earthquake early this morning.

Unlike Japan, Hawaii had time to prepare for the impact. Warning sirens went off through the night. By the time it hit, residents were evacuated and the beaches had been cleared.

Back here in Mid-Michigan, Micki McCarty Murphy woke up to see the Tsunami reports on television. Her parents are vacationing in Hawaii, and she feared for their safety. Fortunately, though, she was able to get a hold of them. Thanks to the sirens and warnings, her parents were able to remain safe through the storm.

Update: March 11th 3:41 p.m.

An NBC25viewer called and informed us that a passanger train went missing during the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan. According to a Fox News report, there's no word how many people were onboard the East Japan Railway Co. train when it disappeared. The train was near the Noribu staton when the quake hit.

Update: March 11th 2:45 p.m.

The Associate Press reports another earthquake has hit Japan. This one scaled at 6.6 in magnitude. The center of the shock was located in the central, mountainous portion of the country. No major damage has been reported from this quake.

Update March 11th 1:42 p.m. (From Allison Hillaker)

The American Red Cross is taking donations to help in the Japan disaster relief.

Anyone who would like to donate can call 1-800- HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669). Checks can also be sent to the Red Cross, with a memo "International Relief Fund." Checks can be mailed, or dropped off at any of the local Red Cross facilities.

For more information on each local Red Cross, click the links below:

The American Red Cross- Saginaw

The American Red Cross - Bay City

The American Red Cross - Flint

The American Red Cross - Mid-Michigan

Update March 11th 12:13 p.m.

NBC25 Meteorologist, Kevin Usealman, has a full report on what caused the earthquake and how it triggered the Tsunami. You can read that information here.

Update March 11th 11:10 a.m. (From Allison Hillaker)

The Tsunami is expected to hit the California coast within the hour. This impact is not expected to be as dangerous as the waves that smashed upon Hawaii.

According to the Los Angeles Times, there have been no evacuations ordered. Coast Guards are, however, watching the beaches and warning fishers and swimmers to remain away from the area.

Update March 11th 10:25am (From Kevin Usealman)

According to the Associated Press - the tsunami hit hawaii and swamped beaches and shoreline areas, but did not reach far inland. A scientist at the tsunami warning center says while Hawaii has avoided major damage, "but there is going to be some damage, I'm sure," said geophysicist Gerard Fryer in Hawaii.

This could be a good sign for the west coast of the mainland U.S., where the tsunami is expected to hit before 11am.

Update March 11th 9:50 a.m. (From Allison Hillaker)

So far in Japan, 200 to 300 bodies have been found, according to an MSNBC report.

The aftershock from the 8.9 magnitude in Japan sent waves of up to three feet high smashing onto the shores of Hawaii. MSNBC reports residents in costal areas have been evacuated. Waves could reach up to six feet high.

According to google reports, Tsunami Alerts are in still effect for New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and others.

Update: March 11th 9:15 a.m. (From Allison Hillaker)

On the NBC_25 Twitter and NBC25 Facebook page, we asked for anyone who knew people in Japan or Hawaii to contact us. Shortly after we asked for your response, a man from Japan contacted NBC25's Elizabeth Macfarland. He told us about the devistation and sent us photos from the disaster:

From Japanese Jim:

@LiZMacFarland Earthquake was nuts... shelves in my apartment almost collapsed.. car outside was bouncing pretty hard. #prayforjapan

@LiZMacFarland I live in Fujisawa, its in the southern part of Kanagawa. My grandparents live in Ibaraki, which was real close to the epicenter. they were ok thank god. large tsunami damage in Sendai. #prayforjapan

@LiZMacFarland Yeah I'm in my apartment. Watching the news. they're expecting large aftershocks so no sleep for tonight haha

@LiZMacFarland nuclear power plant damage was feared but was reported okay. all trains have stopped and a lot of people are going to have to spend the night there.

@LiZMacFarland about 60,000 people stuck in Yokohama station tonight.

Image from Japanese Jim

Image from Japanese Jim of Keio University Shonan-Fujisawa Campus library.

Original Post (from Nicole Serling)

A devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake has hit >{<}/iframe{>}{<}br /{>}{<}small{>}{<}a href=",+japan&aq=&sll=32.934114,-117.062196&sspn=0.045095,0.076561&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Iwate+Prefecture,+Japan&t=h&z=9&ll=39.703619,141.152684" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left"{>}View Larger Map{<}/a{>}{<}/small{>}" target="_blank"} Northeastern Japan . It's the 5th strongest earthquake in the world since 1900. So far the death toll is at 32 but it continues to rise.

Tsunami warnings have expanded to the entire US West Coast following this massive earthquake.

"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.

Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency says many people have died in the quake and tsunami that hit the north. The quake unleashed a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was a magnitude 8.9, while Japan's meteorological agency measured it at 8.8. It struck at 2:46 p.m. and was followed by more than 20 aftershocks , including several at least 6.3, the size of the quake that struck New Zealand recently .

Meanwhile, a utility company in northeastern Japan has reported a fire in a turbine building of a nuclear power plant after the earthquake shook the region. Tohoku Electric Power Co. says smoke was observed coming out of the building, which is separate from the plant's reactor, and the cause is under investigation. The plant is in Miyagi prefecture.

The company says there have been no reports of radioactive leaks or injuries.

Does anyone have any Michigan connections to Japan? Leave us your comments below.