Japan's terrifying tsunami

The most powerful earthquake ever recorded near Japan sends a deadly wall of water crashing into the island nation, and sparks tsunami warnings in the U.S.

Video footage shows the area in northeastern Japan hit by the tsunami that followed the 8.8 magnitude earthquake Friday.
(Image credit: Corbis)

The video: A 23-foot tsunami caused by a massive offshore earthquake slammed into Japan's east coast on Friday, killing at least 60 people and sweeping away cars, ships, and buildings. (See video below.) The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers rush to help survivors, and get a more complete view of the damage. The 8.9-magnitude quake was the most powerful ever recorded around Japan, and will likely be among the ten strongest recorded since the invention of seismographs. It sent seawater rushing several miles inland, causing fires in Tokyo, 250 miles away, and knocking out power to 4 million homes in the capital alone. "I thought I was going to die," said one person after the tsunami. "It was enormous." A tsunami warning has been issued for the entire Pacific region, including Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, and California, where residents in many coastal areas have been urged to seek higher ground.

The reaction: What a terrifying sight, says Courtney Comstock at Business Insider. And there's still danger ahead. "The most frightening side effect of the disaster" is the potential for "nuclear disaster," as Japan worries that the damage could make it impossible to cool the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The rest of the region should prepare for the worst, too, says Patrick Takahashi at The Huffington Post. The leading edge of the wave from this quake has already reached Hawaii, and it was only 2 feet high — not the 6 feet projected. But "sometimes the second wave can be larger, so we need to wait" before we know the worst is over. Watch a video report on the disaster:

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