Massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake triggers devastating Japan tsunami

Earlier this morning (Friday, March 11) Japan suffered what is likely to be its worst quake in modern history. The quake occurred a few days after the major one in New Zealand, although it is not clear whether there is a direct relation.

Given the power of the shock, massive tsunami waves are expected. Hawaii and others islands are on high alert. Kyodo news agency said a 33 ft wave (10-meters) struck the port of Sendai. Japan’s NHK television showed a massive surge of debris-filled water sweeping away buildings, cars and ships.

At least 300 people died; unfortunately, as it is typical with earthquakes it will take several days to better appreciate the real death toll.

How does it compare to the 1995 Kobe quake?
The Great Hanshin earthquake (Kobe earthquake) was an 6.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Tuesday, January 17, 1995. It killed over 6,000 people and left 300,000 homeless. This was Japan’s worst earthquake since the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, which killed 140,000 lives. The 1995 Kobe earthquake cuased caused $100 billion in damage and is thus considered as one of the most economically devastating earthquake ever. (Sources: At War with the Weather, MIT Press, H. Kunreuther and E. Michel-Kerjan)