Japan's Devastating Earthquake: What We Know And How You Can Help

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UPDATED AT 11:50 PM EST Before 3pm Japan time (1 am EST) Friday, an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale rocked the island nation 200 km north of Tokyo. Quickly thereafter, a massive, horrifying tsunami hit Japan's Northeast region. Now 1,400 people are estimated to have died, and Japan is still being hit with scores of aftershocks.

Illustration for article titled Japans Devastating Earthquake: What We Know And How You Can Help

Japan's infrastructure has taken a devastating hit. Highways are empty. Many of Japan's proud train lines have stopped. At least one oil refinery is on fire and out of commission for the near future — as you see in the photo to the left. And Japanese officials are struggling to control two nuclear reactors whose cooling systems were damaged by the quakes

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In the United States, tsunami waves hit Hawaii and our West coast. Hawaii was also hit with a 4.6 magnitude aftershock earthquake, triggering even more Tsunami fears. So far, damage appears minimal, although there are reports of at least one person missing.

The impacts of this disaster will have wide-ranging ramifications — from the economy to gas prices to technology and yes, even to cars. But on a day like to day, as electricity-less darkness descends upon many of Japan's cities for the first time in decades, we'll be focusing on keeping you up to date on what we know here on our front page. If you're looking for our regular auto-obsessive non-earthquake stories, use the sidebar on the right.

Illustration for article titled Japans Devastating Earthquake: What We Know And How You Can Help

I survived Japan's massive earthquake

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Japan battles to contain nuclear crisis after quake (Photo: AP)

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NOAA's tsunami wave height chart shows how badly shorelines will be hit

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Two men look at smoke rising over the Tokyo skyline after the earthquake struck. (Xinhua via Getty Images)

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Mud and debris carried by the tsunami at Sendai airport. (AP)

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Houses set on fire and engulfed by water in Natori City

Images and video of the disaster

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Watch the tsunami wave hit a Japanese airport

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Watch this amazing footage of a four-meter-high wave of water washing over the airport in Japan's Miyagi prefecture. More »


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Boat caught in huge whirlpool after Japan's 8.9-magnitude earthquake

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Helicopters captured this amazing footage of a whirlpool offshore. LIsten to the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley explain why. More »


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First Photos of the Japanese Earthquake

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[via Kotaku] Our video game-obsessed brothers at Kotaku have put together this gallery of screen shots Brian Ashcraft, who's located in Japan, has taken. But the top photo you are looking at shows deserted Tokyo streets taken by a video game designer, Masahiro Sakurai - the man responsible for Super Smash Bros. Sakurai noted the lack of cars as he posted the image on Twitter. More »


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Moment of Japan earthquake caught on camera

Here's video from the BBC showing - at about 30 seconds in - the moment the devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan early this morning. More »

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What we know

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Japan Declares Nuclear Emergency as Nuclear Plant's Cooling Function Fails

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It's being labelled a precautionary measure, but reportedly the Japanese government has issued a state of emergency plea after a cooling system failure at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. More »


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The Unbelievably Terrifying Japanese Tsunami

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[via Gawker]This is CNN's horrifying, engrossing video of the first tsunami that hit the Japanese coast after Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake; apparently, this is muddy water from the Natori river in northeast Japan, pushed upstream into farm fields, taking with it whole buildings. More »


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NOAA Tsunami Warning Center

[via NOAA]This is the NOAA's Tsunami Warning Center. Watch it for updates on where and when to expect tsunami hits around the Pacific rim and the West coast of the United States. More »

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Watch live earthquake coverage

[via Al Jazeera]Al Jazeera has live footage of the earthquake streaming on their website. Watch it here. More »

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No Major Damage Reported as Tsunami Hits Hawaii

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[via Gawker]The first tsunami waves generated from this morning's massive earthquake near Japan have now reached the Hawaiian islands. So far, everyone appears to be safe. More »


How you can help

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Donate here to the Red Cross

[via Red Cross]Donate to the Red Cross here for earthquake and disaster relief. More »

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Contacting U.S. citizens in Japan

U.S. citizens in Japan who need help, or people concerned about U.S. citizens there, can email the State Department at JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov or call 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

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Continental Airlines travel disruption page

[via Continental Airlines] Continental Airlines has set up this page to help out those affected by travel disruptions due to the earthquake in Japan. More »

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Delta Airlines travel disruption page

[via Delta Airlines] Delta Airlines has set up this page to help out those affected by travel disruptions due to the earthquake in Japan. More »

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How automakers are responding

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One Honda employee killed, 30 injured in Japan earthquake

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Honda released this statement earlier today, confirming one fatality and thirty people injured among the company's employees in Japan. More »


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How Toyota's dealing with the earthquake in Japan

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We've heard from Toyota, regarding its company-wide emergency task force set up to deal with the earthquake. No injuries reported so far, but some employees have been evacuated. More »


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DISCUSSION

My heart goes out to the people there. I had the pleasure of spending a total of 2 and a half months in Japan for work a few years ago. The people are very warm, polite, and incredibly helpful to tall, goofy gaijin who look like they don't know what the hell they're doing. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but I take tiny comfort in the fact that Japan is probably the most prepared for such things. Any country that can build massive subway systems on such seismically active ground should be.

Still, as we've seen, there are some things that just won't be denied or accounted for. My sympathies go out to those caught up in this devastation.