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Hawaii orders tsunami evacuation after massive quake in Japan

by Jorge Hernandez on March 11, 2011

Following an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday March 11, Hawaii has issued a tsunami warning, ordered evacuations and shut down airports in Maui, Kauai and the Big Islands.

Residents and tourists were asked to move to higher ground as waves of up to six feet were expected along the coasts of the islands.

"We are implementing vertical evacuation. We are in touch with all hotels and they have an evacuation process in order," said Mike McCartney, the president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Association.

According to the Los Angeles Times, as many as 300 bodies have been found in Sendai, a city in the northeastern part of Japan, about 370 kilometers from Tokyo, and with a population of 1 million.

The earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time and resulted in at least 80 fires. It is the fifth largest recorded earthquake in the world since 1900.

A ship with 100 people onboard was carried away by the tsunami, according to Kyodo News.

An alert has been issued in Guam, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to News Channel 6 WJBF.

In Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has urged residents to remain calm as the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano issued a precautionary evacuation due to concerns over the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, according to CNN. Those living within 3 kilometers of the power facility were asked to evacuated.

"It felt like a jet had come too close to the window and everything started shaking and rocking, and there was a huge rumbling noise. …When I saw the panic on people's faces, I made a move for the exit," David Pierson, an American waiting at Tokyo's Narita Airport when the earthquake hit, told the Los Angeles Times.

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