A magnitude 8.9 earthquake, the worst in Japan’s history, struck off the nation’s coast. The quake was followed by 19 aftershocks. The tremors caused a major tsunami, measuring an estimated 13 feet, which flooded coastal areas, and destroyed part of a major industrial facility thought to hold natural gas supplies, causing flames to shoot into the sky. Video from Japan showed roads washed away and authorities report 200 to 300 people killed amid devastation in Sendai.
Hawaii, the west coast of North America and at least 19 other countries around the Pacific are under tsunami warning. Japan’s government has reportedly sent notice to the International Atomic Energy Agency that the flood waters might threaten the security of one of its nuclear power plants. At present there is no report of any damage to the nuclear facility, but damage to key parts of the plant could cause radiation to seep into the environment. There is no known case of a tsunami causing a nuclear power leak.