by

If you’ve been living under a rock (or hiding under a table, which would be quite appropriate in this case), an 8.9 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Sendai, Japan, causing massive damage and potentially up to 1,000 casualties or more (at least, that’s what recent reports have been estimating we’ll end up seeing).

The Quake Itself

The quake has a couple of names right now. I’ve seen both “The 2011 Sendai Earthquake” (because it hit off the coast of the big city of Sendai) as well as the 東北地方太平洋沖地震 (Tōhoku Chihō Taiheiyō-oki Jishin), because the earthquake was in the Tohoku region of Japan. The earthquake was off the coast of the City of Sendai.

The quake itself was huge, recording at 8.9 on the Richter Scale. In case you didn’t know, the way the Richter Scale works is as follows: “With each whole number (i.e. “1”) increase in the Richter Scale, there is an increase of 31.6 times the amount of energy released. That means a 7.0 earthquake releases 31.6 times the energy of a 6.0 earthquake. To put things in perspective, the math would look something like this (I’m making up my own energy unit, called “energies”).

1.0 Earthquake = 1 “Energies”

2.0 Earthquake = 31.6 “Energies”

3.0 Earthquake = 998.56 “Energies”

4.0 Earthquake = 31,554.5 “Energies”

5.0 Earthquake = 997,112 “Energies”

6.0 Earthquake = 31,508,739 “Energies”

…and so on

Each point up on the Richter scale means a lot more energy released. Even a 0.2 increase on the Richter Scale doubles the amount of energy released. An 8.9 Magnitude Earthqake is gigantic, and you should never hope you have to experience something like that.

Things were broken and towers swayed – Although it took place in Northish-East area of Japan, folks in Tokyo, Hokkaido, and even China felt the quake.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhJzdtzl6KY’]

Buildings in Tokyo, 2011 Sendai Quake

Although Japan is, at least by most standards, pretty prepared for an earthquake, it seems like the things the earthquake caused were even more destructive.

Tsunamis (Tidal Waves)

Natori, Japan – Tsunami hitting after the 2011 Sendai Earthquake

There’s probably a reason why even in English we call tsunamis “tsunamis.” These are big waves that, of course, have huge destructive abilities. Because the quake was so close to the coast, there wasn’t much time to evacuate for the tsunami soon to follow. Picking up debrees, cars, houses, flaming houses, mud, and more, the ocean swept across some parts of Japan, taking out towns, buildings, and pretty much everything in its path.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80CH_XkpSCE’]

This, it always seems, is the scariest thing about earthquakes. It isn’t the shaking, and it isn’t the buildings… it’s the subsequent tsunamis triggered.

Water is the worst :( Combine that with broken buildings, and you have yourself a lot of problems.

Fires And Nuclear Reactors

Natural Gas Facility burning after the earthquake

Japan has never seemed to have great luck with fires + earthquakes in the past. Everything is just so… wooden. More than 80 fires were reported, some bigger than others, though a fire is never something something you want to have to deal with…

Fires in Yamada Town

Although there were/are fires all around Japan after the earthquake, one of the scariest things (to me) is one of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima.

They’ve been using temporary cooling measures to keep things from being a problem (plus the US Air Force will be helping with that now), but it just shows some of the additional dangers earthquakes can have. Currently, they’re planning on releasing some of the pressure, which could cause a very small radiation leak (supposedly not a danger, but it’s a good thing people were evacuated from this area anyways). More updates on this later, I’m sure (or, check out one of the live feeds below).

Update: Things haven’t been looking good at the nuclear facilities, with fires, explosions, and radiation. Right now, people seem to be safe, though, and that’s the main thing.

Live Feeds & News

Instead of reading this (I’m not providing a live news feed, maybe just a few big updates over the next few days), you should check out one of the many live feeds / live video streams going on out there.

Gakuranman.com has great live coverage, as well as a ton of emergency information and more links to live feeds. He’s also been Tweeting about it a lot too.

The National Post has live coverage, as well as many more high quality images on the Earthquake and Tsunamis

NewScientist.com has been putting out sharp updates including sciency updates on the fault line.

NHK has a stream on UStream which I imagine will be covering the earthquake for a while (Japanese).

TBS Japan also has a stream on UStream.

Twitter is also a great source on news. Tags and Search Terms like #tsunami, #earthquake, #tohoku, #miyagi, #sendai, #prayforjapan (maybe not so much news, but for well wishers), and (apparently) Tokyo Disneyland (c’mon people…) are pretty popular right now and should get you lots of up to the second news (including a lot of 1st person stuff).

Google (thanks Ken in the comments!) has one of the best resources out there, both in English and Japanese. It has all kinds of very useful things on it.

Almost Any News source is also covering this right now. I know a lot of news feeds only play in certain areas of the world (dumb region blocking), so hit up your country’s news station on line, and there’s a decent chance you’ll find some kind of live stream.

There are more Live Feeds and News sites out there (like, hundreds, maybe thousands), so if there’s one you think is particularly good, put it in the comments so folks can stay informed.

Putting It All In Perspective

This was a big earthquake. It was the biggest earthquake ever recorded in Japan. In the world, it is the 7th largest earthquake ever recorded, where the largest was a 9.5 earthquake in Valdivia, Chile, in 1960.

That being said, Japan is a country that’s fairly well prepared for Earthquakes. They get 20% of the worlds earthquakes over 6.0. Every life lost is a terrible thing, but hopefully it also spurs on on technology advancement to keep people safer for the next big quake (and not just people in Japan, but people all over the world, too).

It’s disasters like these that remind us we should help other people. Sure, Japan is a technologically-advanced first world country, but a lot of people need help. If you want to do your part, you can donate to the Red Cross online or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 (and this will donate a tiny $10 to help people in need), donate to Americares, or check out one of these many other ways you can help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Scottlavigne Scott Lavigne

    GO Japan! Fighting! Kick Mother nature’s ass!

  • Digitalpariah

    Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Samantha-Mercado-Saballos/665700105 Samantha Mercado-Saballos

    It’s so sad. my mom woke me up in the morning because she knows how much I like Japan and after that I didn’t go back to sleep, I stayed up and watched the news. still am.

  • Joyce Boss

    Thank you for the update, Koichi. I hope the folks you know in Japan are OK.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NMMV6AXYY4MPQ67ULYXG542TKA Jen

    Just got hit by another one in NIigata and Nagano. Hakuba didn’t feel it too badly, but friends to the east say that it was worse.

  • http://twitter.com/Samufugu Sam Barrow

    This is the first time I’ve been so interested in the news. I stayed up for twelve hours straight watching live streams of Japan and CNN / BBC broadcasts (and still am) My best wishes go out to Japan and those who are missing or have missing loved ones.

  • http://twitter.com/Musouka Musouka

    Scary stuff. A friend told me it was like being aboard a violently rocking ship. The videos of the tsunami were quite jarring

    Thankfully, all my friends and their extended families are okay. Our thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones.

  • RoomC

    I wonder how Tashirojima is at this time.

  • http://twitter.com/sogimashita Agata Sojda

    If anyone uses Key Hole TV, there is also a special live channel added to the list, called Earthquake Information (地震情報). In Japanese, though.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    I’m guessing probably not too well, though everything’s kind of built on a big hill, at least :(

  • Rebecca Muck

    I feel exactly the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000121111288 Iliya Zhmakin

    well,i’ve read some of the comments on some russian and international sites and i wonder,why people’s hearts are filled with such anger.

    It’s all to you,to the ones who writes jokes and gloats.

    Fear God,a lot of people died, even more are missnig and only God knows, how many families were broken,things that were created by people’s hard work are destroyed.
    Maybe the relatonships between russian people-my people, and japanese people are tense,but we’re all humans after all,we can understand each other’s pain.

    My sincerely condolences to everyone who have lost someone dear in this terrible disaster,and i’d like to wish to the ones who’s dear people are missing not to lose hope.

    But all that we can do now is pray for everyone who died there and for the ones who’s still alive.

  • http://twitter.com/NishiLain LC

    Same here ): I’m so sad, hope Japan will be back to normal soon.

  • http://twitter.com/anonyguy Brian Perry

    Live from Yokkaichi, Mie, Japan – @YokosoNews broadcasting live 13+ hrs – Quake news translated to English http://ustre.am/fkaU

  • Ipconfig42

    Haven’t slept all night. I am in the US i found out about this as it was happening and I’ve in alert mode not for awhile i can’t believe this. I wish i could go there and help out. and i hope they get those fires and power plants under control and save those people that are burried

  • Masaru Kaito

    Canadian Tofugu-ers: to donate to the Canadian Red Cross, text REDCROSS to 30333.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1635704913 Even Tolo Dybevik

    Damn, I hope this ends soon. And think about the mess after, all the ruined buildings. Also I heard Shou from Alice Nine’s grandmother died… ;-;

  • Satoru

    In your google earth picture… you might wanna go take another look in google earth o.o i count over 108 now! even on the WEST side of Honshu..
    God…the devistation =( i fucking live in Belgium and i dont know ANYONE from Japan that is in Japan right now…but i’m dieing from worrying in my living room =( the entire coast…Ravished
    im following online japanese news and just the number of casualties…
    god =(
    Please be okay Koichi….

  • Satoru

    It is 32 times worse than “THE great Kansai earth quake”… does this monster have a name yet?..

  • Pingback: Notes From Me » 8.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Japan; Weeaboos Cry()

  • Pietertje_ik

    millions of homes destroyed, thousands dead, hundred thousand missing, a destruction a hundred times as much as haiti. And my mom. “why are you gonna stay up huhhh are you affraid huhhh it is in the water a little further from shore euhhhuuhh” stupid woman. she actually thinks 0 people died and nothing is going on. stupid *** >.> i cant believe what is going on..
    im gonna stay awake the entire night…

  • Anonymous

    I can’t tell if it’s the seventh largest or the fifth largest earthquake on record… honestly, I’ve heard both o_o

    Still, this is a terrible tragedy; I can’t understand how some commenters on other sites can be so flippant about the whole thing. I’ve been praying for the souls of those who died, and for those people who still have to deal with the aftermath; and you can be sure that I’ll still be praying for them for quite some time.

    God bless you all.

  • erika

    *have some family* missed typed srry

  • erika

    im sad…i got worried because i have some in japan and i didn’t really know where they lived…also is Koichi ok? i kinda got worried as well when i recalled you/koichi was in japan.

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    not in Japan, but thank you so much for the concern!

  • Ken Hikage

    I think this is the best resource I’ve seen so far. Be safe everyone. http://www.google.co.jp/intl/en/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html

    For slightly more useful info switch that page into Japanese.

  • Bajrang

    Many many hearty condolences and prayers for my poor Japanese friends from India. I remember the moment when these ghost waves hit my place Kerala, south end state of India erupting from Indonesia in 2006.

    Dont worry our Indian crew has already offered help to Japan for all support and relief operations. We are one and have only one mind whenever disasters happen to any part ofearth.

    Out of 25000 Indians in Japan, i know many people from here who are either studying or working in Tokyo. Many Japanese tourists were here recently. I am seeing only Japanese news here in media’s after earthquake.

    Hope every one is safe and sound. Prayers to God for no more nature plays. But take care…

    Our PM has offered all aid, help and assistance to Japan.

    A Japanese lady professor named Takaku who also speaks “malayalam” language of our place Kerala, southend state of India yesterday came in our local news TV channel to describe about this earthquake and her relatives and friends in Japan. She said she couldnt contact anyone and noone is taking any call there in Japan. Her home is in Sendai or Miyagi.

  • Ponyo

    I always feel bad when I see national tragedies on the news, but this just feels more personal, somehow, since this is a nation I know and care so much about. Heart goes out to Sendai. The stuff Japan has survived throughout the years, I’ve got no doubt this will be another item to add to the list. Fight-o!

  • Stef

    OMG my mum did that to me too!

  • Ojisancpw

    Tashiro Jima is gone?

  • Rj

    PLEASE, anyone know about Tashiro Island and the cats and the elderly people living there? How can we find out???

  • http://twitter.com/edgarjon Jon

    I was up all night last night, 1:45am EST to 5am EST…

  • Melissa

    I hope everything in Japan is ok. Does anyone know where I can donate money to help for the tsunami? I mean a Japanese website.

  • Jason Riggs

    Things have been crazy here in Tokyo. I have never seen a whole city shut down in 5 minutes. Despite all the hardship everyone seems to still be in good spirits.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V2377S5IXRRZ4SWBF7ATTP4IVE Ime

    My thoughts and prayers for the victims of all Japanese earthquakes:

    In memoriam:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwwBYPoeVt8
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M-Ig80dhVU

  • http://twitter.com/SuperNoonim SykoRyoko

    This is scary as balls. I’m still trying to get in touch with people. A lot of my friends are still MIA. :(

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    Japan can survive this, thank god for all the engineers who made the most EQ resistant buildings they could. I hope everyone is safe and sound. Thank goodness it’s over.

  • M Saadatmand

    I love Japan, This was the worst news for me. I’m so sad, hope Japan could back to normal life very soon.

  • Manabu

    少しでも被害が少なくなるよう祈っています。
    日本は復興が得意なので、すぐに元通りの日本に戻るでしょう。

    ところで、
    “Although it took place in Northish-East area of Japan, folks in Tokyo, Hokkaido, and even China felt the quake.”
    本当に?Chinaって中国でも揺れを感じたんですか?多分それ、日本の中国地方のことだと思いますけど・・・。
    私は日本の金沢という、仙台から車で7~8時間の所に住んでいますが、まったく地震による揺れは感じませんでした。

  • Manabu

    少しでも被害が少なくなるよう祈っています。
    日本は復興が得意なので、すぐに元通りの日本に戻るでしょう。

    ところで、
    “Although it took place in Northish-East area of Japan, folks in Tokyo, Hokkaido, and even China felt the quake.”
    本当に?Chinaって中国でも揺れを感じたんですか?多分それ、日本の中国地方のことだと思いますけど・・・。
    私は日本の金沢という、仙台から車で7~8時間の所に住んでいますが、まったく地震による揺れは感じませんでした。

  • Viczilla

    oh my gosh

  • Val

    Lol my mum didn’t wake me up but it was the first thing she said to me when I got out of bed… I go to a school to learn japanese and my teacher had just left for Japan this week, all our classmates sent her e-mails and she finally replied today, she’s fine we’re so relieved

  • Celinedavla

    our prayers r with japan…..

  • Jack

    just picture hundreds of cats being swept away by a wave……残念ですね

  • http://www.facebook.com/LukeHero Luke Hero

    The BBC News website has live coverage on this around the clock.

  • http://twitter.com/Ayoeish Ayoe

    All my hope and thoughts to the Japanese people!

  • http://hanlonsrzr.blogspot.com/ Mr.S.

    In case the winds shift from the Fukushima nuke-plants, make sure you locate some potassium-iodide. My longer explanation is here, and I included product pictures: http://hanlonsrzr.blogspot.com/2011/03/if-theres-meltdown-and-on-shore-winds.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000083927158 Jessica Leo Fahlén

    Been following the news like crazy. We’re supposed to fly to Tokyo in two weeks, but we’ll se about that. Even if the travelling company gives us the green light, I’m sure it wont be a happy sakura-watching tourist-ey trip as planned.

  • Meru

    the news is making me depress. i’ll pray for those who lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami. i hope they can find the reported missing people.
    ジャパンファイトー!

  • Carmen Lim

    that part of japan could be turned in2 a part of the sea where the tsunami was :(
    the land mite never b seen there again

  • Carmen Lim

    i noe
    its so heartbreaking!

  • Carmen Lim

    1 minute and the whole of the airport was filled
    the despair…
    the loss of family
    HOW WOULD THOSE HALF WITS OUT THERE SAYING “OMFG that stupid Japan will survive, lets juss leave it 2 the rescue squad, no use sending our p-r-e-c-i-o-u-s money 2 the fking country” feel if THEY were the ones in the situation.

    May god bless u all in disasters,
    and to the souls who have died, Rest In Peace.

  • Carmen Lim

    it seems there will b another earthquake in japan again soon
    i think it will b 7. sumfing
    god, S.O.S

  • http://www.nihongowhat.blogspot.com Cal

    Some amazing facts about the power of the quake that shook Japan. The Earths axis has actually been shifted by 25cm making the day shorter by 1.8 microseconds. And Honshu, the main island of Japan has shifted to the east by 2.4 metres. These aren’t very big numbers but thinking that this quake had the strength to move the entire Earth let alone Honshu itself is mind boggling.

    I just returned home from a yet another trip to Japan a couple of weeks ago and I just can’t comprehend that some of these places that I have seen with my own eyes look the way they do now.

  • guest

    i hope the island is okay….

  • ally
  • BoomyGoBoom

    They changed the rating of it to a 9.0 today I believe and it is now the 5th largest Quake in Recorded Human History.

  • http://nihonamor.wordpress.com/ ビッキ

    For some reason I didn’t trust my money going to the American Red Cross, so donated to Doctors Without Borders. This org has received 5 star ratings at all the charity websites I checked. I reccommend this site to anyone looking for a reputable org to donate to. updates on their work in Japan here >>> http://bit.ly/ebEuUB Oh yea, and I caved and bought the Lady Gaga wristband as well :-)

  • Lldssk

    Helloo sweet Japan friends
    Im terribly sad for this!! :( greetings from Turkey. God bless you all
    http://laracroft3.skynetblogs.be
    Lalique

  • Mamaguacha

    Fuck you and the fucking cats

  • Jack

    よかったね!!!! They said tashirojima was “submerged in thirty centimeters of water”. I wonder how the cats responded….it would make one funny video.

  • Bajrang67

    Have you seen them?..

    Indian family goes missing in Iwaki Province, Japan.

    An indian ‘Narinder Kumar with his Japanese wife and 3 sons have gone missing in Iwaki province of Japan since the day earthquake and tsunami hit the country. He owns a three-star hotel in Iwaki province and had left India 13 years ago to get settled in Japan. He is a native of Kurali village, Karnal district, Haryana in India.

    Narinder, his wife Maria and their three kids – Yash (11), Major (7) and Marish (5) have gone missing.

    Report at:

    http://www.timesnow.tv/videoshow/4367754.cms

  • Bajrang67

    Have you seen them?..

    Indian family goes missing in Iwaki Province, Japan.

    An indian ‘Narinder Kumar with his Japanese wife and 3 sons have gone missing in Iwaki province of Japan since the day earthquake and tsunami hit the country. He owns a three-star hotel in Iwaki province and had left India 13 years ago to get settled in Japan. He is a native of Kurali village, Karnal district, Haryana in India.

    Narinder, his wife Maria and their three kids – Yash (11), Major (7) and Marish (5) have gone missing.

    Report at:

    http://www.timesnow.tv/videoshow/4367754.cms

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1635704913 Even Tolo Dybevik

    Woh ._. Just found out my Japan trip this summe is canceled, probably the best.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6ICXLAFPSWZCM5R47N6W3VX3PA Sebastian

    just a note while i was reading this you added a second “something” in your article

    Japan has never seemed to have great luck with fires + earthquakes in the past. Everything is just so… wooden. More than 80 fires were reported, some bigger than others, though a fire is never something something you want to have to deal with

    there is the passage in which you have added the second unnintentional something lol now back to my comment lol i think this is such a tradegty on whats happeneing there. but i know that contries are really helping for this quake releif and i myself have donated around 50 i know that might not seem like much but then again they can do much with $50 but my regards to Japan and hoping that they will recover soon :)

  • http://laracroft3.skynetblogs.be Lalique

    Im terribly sad about quake! :( Turkish people knows what it means
    hugs from Turkey
    Lalique
    http://laracroft3.skynetblogs.be

  • http://twitter.com/EmpathyArt EmpathyArt☻

    I was on a plane two hours away when the earthquake struck. The situation is a lot worse than most of us thought when it first occured and Japan needs all the help it can get. Many are homeless in areas where snow has been fallen as well as bad news everyday on the nuclear reactors. The emperor even made a national announcement. Here`s hoping Japan can quickly get back on its feet and we can all work together.

  • Hanacraig

    Yay! Thanks Koichi! I plan to use this with my son, who is currently only six years old. An incentive for you to keep it going until he is old enough to get some use out of it (unless you think it would be good for him now already? I’ll look into it). Anyway, LOVE YOUR WORK! Thanks for making it so easy to donate a substantial amount to Japan and benefit ourselves in the process. I have mentioned this blog on Facebook, hope everyone else does the same ; )

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    ◢████████████▆▄
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    █◤◢██◣◥███████◤\
    ◥◢████ ████████◤  \
    ┴█████ ██████◤     ﹨
    ┬│   │█████◤       ▏
    ┴│   │  ▏
    ┬∕   ∕    /▔▔▔\    ∕
    *∕___/﹨   ∕      \ /\
    ┬┴┬┴┬┴\    \_     ﹨/ 

  • Gaikoku Geinojin

    I landed in Tokyo the day after the quake and I am still here now… Thankfully my friends are all ok though there is news everyday of the dead and missing…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=529571360 Mariko Konno

    im a half japanese girl living in sydney and i recently went to Japan to My fathers town of rikuzentakata of the north of Honshu in Iwate. Many of my family members lost their houses, friends and their beautiful beach side home. I felt horrifically shocked by the fact after 10 months buildings are still in wreckage with belongings still laying there like it had just happened a week ago. My family were lucky in a sense they had survive. Going there after over 10 years not visiting Japan was a big step for me in really understanding the situation and getting to know my culture again. Im proud to have heritage in such a beautiful part of Japan. Not the busy streets of Tokyo and other concrete cities but somewhere where the real Japan is still holding on to its culture. I recommend any traveller to help volunteer or even just visit this beautiful part of japan