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Tsunami alerts issued for multiple counties in Pacific Rim

Tsunami warnings have been issued for multiple countries in the Pacific Rim. The Japanse Prime Minister confirmed that a nuclear power plant in the north has been closed down but declared the situation safe so far.

Black smoke rises from a burning building in Tokyo after Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
Black smoke rises from a burning building in Tokyo after Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
Image: Press Association Images

Updated at 08.45

TSUNAMI WARNINGS HAVE been issued for multiple countries in the Pacific Rim, following a massive 8.9 earthquake hitting Japan earlier today.

Al Jazeera reports that the earthquake is the seventh most powerful ever recorded.

One woman has been confirmed dead so far.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami warning was in effect for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and the US state of Hawaii – as well as the Marshall Islands, Belau, Midway Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says the estimated earliest arrival in Hawaii of the first tsunami wave is 2:59 am HST Friday. The country has issued an evacuation alert and sirens are sounding in Honolulu.

Dr Jose Borrero tsunami scientist in New Zealand told Al Jazeera: ”The whole Pacific Rim in on tsumnai watch . It is a severe event – the magnitudes have increased rapidly from the very first report to come through”.

“The fact that it was a shallow earthquake makes it worse for the potential for tsunami generation,” Borrero said. He added that New Zealand is not expecting a wave more than one metre, which would pose minimal damage to the coastline, and also that the waves will have “a lot of travel time” before the waves reach Hawaii.

To put today’s quake in context, the 2010 Haiti quake measured at 7.0 and 2010 Chile quake was 8.8, he said.

The Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan addressed the nation and appealed for calm, saying:

“Some of the nuclear power plants have stopped automatically. No radioactive material of any kind has been confirmed to have leaked. An emergency disaster HQ has been set up”. Kan will head the emergency response team.

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