8.9 Quake, 23-Foot Tsunami Hit Japan

A powerful 8.9 offshore quake hit Japan, the largest in the country's recorded history, sending a massive tsunami into the Pacific. Boats, cars, homes, and people were swept away, and fires burned in its wake. Hundreds have been reported killed. The wave is reported to have been 23 feet, and sent boats, trucks, and burning buildings miles inland, slamming debris into overpasses, before receding. Tokyo's airports halted flights and trains were suspended. With landlines down and cellphones not working, people used smartphones to watch television broadcasts and contact family via Twitter. Two of Japan's nuclear power plants shut down automatically, and authorities report a fire in one plant's turbine building. An oil refinery in Ichihara city caught fire, sending 100-foot flames into the air. The quake was the biggest to hit Japan since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. A tsunami warning is in effect for the entire Pacific, including the U.S. West Cost, Canada, and Alaska, and South America.