[There was a video here]

An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale just hit off the coast of Japan on Friday, sending a massive, terrifying wave to the country's northeast and causing untold amounts of damage.

Here's what we know, as of 4:00 a.m. EST:

  • The initial quake, which hit at 2:46 local time on Friday, was among the largest ever recorded. It was quickly followed by several smaller quakes, reaching as high as 7.1. (Here's the magnitude of the confirmed quakes, in order, via Mike Poppel: 8.9, 6.4, 6.4, 6.8, 7.1, 6.3, 6.3, 5.8, 5.9, 6.3, 6.1, 6.1, 5.9, 5.8, 5.7, 5.6, 5.9, 5.4 and 6.2.)
  • At least two large waves, one as high as 33 feet, hit the Miyagi prefecture in the northeastern part of Japan, engulfing Sendai airport and decimating farm fields and towns.
  • Fires and at least one roof collapse have been reported in Tokyo.
  • The Cosmo oil refinery near Tokyo is on fire and the cooling system of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is reportedly not working.
  • A tsunami warning has been put into effect for the west coast of the U.S. Hawaii is expecting its first waves soon and is instructing its residents to leave coastal evacuation zones.
  • Those looking to find people can use this Google service.

Update: See here for the latest news about the earthquake and tsunami.

Here are some photos from Tokyo:


[AP ]