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8.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Japan; Pacific Tsunami Warning; Gadhafi's Son Speaks
Aired March 11, 2011 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BREAKING NEWS JOINED IN PROGRESS)
PATRICK FULLER, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE RED CROSS: Helicopters will any kind of means to get in from these areas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Patrick. Thank you very much.
Patrick Fuller there of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. He's getting on a plane to Tokyo just momentarily.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: If you're just joining us, we have been following for the past few hours a powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami. The scenes that we've been showing you in Japan are unbelievable. But what is playing out right now across the Pacific Ocean is even more extraordinary. We've never seen anything quite like it.
Kristie Lu Stout picks it up in Hong Kong to continue CNN's coverage.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Zain, thank you.
I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong. And welcome to CNN's continuing coverage of the massive earthquake in Japan and the tsunami that is currently racing across the Pacific Ocean.
Now, that tsunami is set to Hawaii in minutes, and we'll be live there as it happens. But I want to start with the situation in Japan.
Now, transportation is shut down in parts of the country, and people are trying to make their way home in the dark now. Local media report at least 59 people are dead after a massive earthquake hit on Friday afternoon, triggering a terrifying tsunami.
Now, this was the scene in our Tokyo bureau as the earthquake struck. Now, you see our producer, Junko Aguro (ph) running to her desk there.
Now, the 8.9 magnitude quake was the most powerful to hit Japan in at least 100 years. There have been more than 30 aftershocks as well.
Local media in Japan say that fires have broken out in more than 80 places. Now, this is a massive blaze at an oil refinery in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, and we are told that this is still burning.
Now, Japanese authorities say five nuclear power plants in the northeast have been shut down, and the Japanese Kyodo News agency says 2,000 people near the Fukushima nuclear plant are being urged to evacuate the area.
Now, the quake's epicenter was in the sea off of Japan's northeast coast. Now, this is video of the massive tsunami that rushed ashore in Miyagi prefecture, and you can see it, the wall of water and debris washing away entire homes.
Now, CNN's Kyung Lah has spent the day in Tokyo. And while it's some 400 kilometers from the quake epicenter, it certainly was not immune.
Kyung, she joins us now live from Tokyo.
And Kyung, it is nightfall. Set the scene for us there in the capital.
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you that it's basically system paralysis. We're trying to make our way up north to where you're seeing all those tsunami picture, and just trying to get out of Tokyo is a challenge, because everyone is in their car trying to move, trying to get out, in a city that heavily relies on public transportation.
People are still walking around. There are reports that people have just decided to camp out in the train stations overnight. But, you know, that's kind of what of they're being forced to do because many people live an hour, two hours outside of Tokyo and commute on a regular basis.
Because the quake did hit in the middle of the afternoon, what we saw here in Tokyo was primarily that system paralysis, transportation issues. We're seeing clogged roads.
There's been some minor damage reported in the most populous city in Japan, 13 million people who live here in Tokyo. But clearly, the biggest crisis is what's happening to the north of us, that tsunami.
From what we're seeing in the local press here and local television images, the big concern right now is that the tsunami has come ashore. It's now pulling back. And so there's that damage effect that's going to happen once all of that debris and water starts sucking back in.
So there's a lot of concern by authorities that they can't get in until that tsunami sort of pulls backs. And a lot of concern by the agencies as to how exactly to get in there because it's nightfall and because it is still cold.
STOUT: You know, we have seen the video of some of the stranded victims, tsunami and earthquake victims there in Sendai. They're stranded in the second level of their homes. They're absolutely surrounded by water, waving white flags, urging for assistance. Time is of the essence here to get access to food, to water.
So are rescue teams on their way? And when will they reach Sendai?
LAH: From what we've been told from the various agencies we've been trying to reach like the Red Cross, for example, the local Red Cross is already mobilizing there trying to get up there, trying to reach those victims. But let's lay the groundwork here for how exactly it is going to be a challenge for these people.
You have roadways that are washed out. You have runways that are inaccessible. So, from what we're gathering, all of the relief agencies are focusing right now on trying to be as flexible as possible using helicopters and mobile crews so they can try to get in and pluck some of those people out.
But because we're talking about the immediate crisis, that this is just -- you know, in the early hours of this, really, they have to kind of see how this begins to unfold. When looking to daylight, what will daylight bring? That is really when we're going to start to see the extent of this.
STOUT: You know, earthquakes are not new to Japan, but given this scale and the devastation, does Japan require outside assistance.
LAH: I'm sorry, say that again.
STOUT: How much outside assistance from other countries does Japan need given the scale of the devastation?
LAH: Given the scale of this devastation, it's quite hard to imagine exactly what Japan is going to be asking for. This is a very wealthy country. This is a country that's well equipped to handle earthquakes. But from what we've gathered, the government has already put out the call to international relief agencies, to governments, to try to assist people here.
Because we're talking about such a powerful quake, and the scope of this being so large, we just have no idea how many people we're talking about being injured, missing, hurt. And we also don't know exactly what kind of infrastructure damage we're looking at right now.
STOUT: And also, Kyung, aftershocks, how many have you felt since the initial 8.9 magnitude struck at around 2:00 p.m. this afternoon there?
LAH: It's really difficult to say because they varied in strength. And it's very possible I could have missed some. But I can tell you for sure, I felt at least seven aftershocks that have been sizeable and notable.
So it is something that we felt here again and again, but those first -- that first big quake, that was really extraordinary, because you really felt that that was a significant event. It went on where we were standing for several minutes. And then there was a very strong aftershock after that. That was not as long, but certainly that was also quite sizeable.
Kyung Lah, joining us live from Tokyo.
Thank you very much for staying on this story for us.
STOUT: Now, we are carefully watching the situation, meanwhile, in Hawaii, as well as my colleagues at CNN USA. Let's cross over there for continuing coverage of the earthquake.
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T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: How are you monitoring and able to keep up with what is coming? And how would you know if it has come or not? I guess, how are you getting your updates?
CHIEF PETTY OFFICER KURT FREDRICKSON, U.S. COAST GUARD: The Coast Guard works closely with our federal, state and local partners. And there has been extensive cooperation on the state and federal side to notify the community so that they can get to a safe area.
As far as getting information, it's the same dynamic where all of the different agencies are sharing information, our command centers are receiving that information. And that's how we're keeping track of the situation.
HOLMES: All right. Kurt Fredrickson.
So, we appreciate the update once again from you. If it's all right, we'll continue to check in as you're out there in Honolulu. Again, like you said, I think some 1,400 members of the Coast Guard out there in that district.
We do appreciate you, sir.
Want to turn to some more pictures, as we continue to get these in. We're talking about Honolulu, we're talking about Hawaii, we're talking about what's coming.
This is what came in Japan. Look at this, folks. This wall of water, this was off the coast of Japan.
Again, the earthquake actually struck some 80 miles out, but that wall of water arrived and went for miles and miles inland. Look at this destruction as it picked up and took with it everything that was in its path.
Reports of houses. You can see cars in this debris. You see anything. There is a boat to the left side of this picture, actually, taking everything with it.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: So you can understand what type of --
STOUT: And that was coverage there from our sister network, CNN USA, obviously also covering this story very closely, indeed.
Now, the earthquake has triggered a tsunami warning for waves now sweeping across the Pacific Ocean.
Now, Hawaiians have endured a very nervous few hours, and Damian Davila lives six blocks from the beach and has repeatedly heard the tsunami warning siren. And he joins us now.
Damian, thank you very much for joining us here on CNN.
Describe the situation around you. What can you see from where you are?
DAMIAN DAVILA, HAWAII RESIDENT: Well, I'm about six to seven blocks away from Maunalua Bay. And then over here, we've been hearing the sirens that's been warning us about the tsunami alert since 10:00 earlier today. So they've been sounding off every hour on the hour, indicating to us about the time that it is going to arrive. Now, it has been estimated that it's going to -- here, the tsunami is going to arrive about 3:21 a.m. local time, and right now we are about four minutes away from that.
STOUT: OK. Just four minutes away.
Are you being told how large the waves will be when they crash ashore?
DAVILA: Well, it has been estimated that they are going to be between four to six feet. But again, as you were saying earlier on today, it is just an estimate based on the models. So we won't really know until the waves actually do hit here.
STOUT: Now, Damian, you're sounding pretty calm to me right now, but how are you really feeling right now?
DAVILA: Well, the feeling, it is -- it has been very stressful. I got off work around 9:00. I didn't really know what was going on until my wife told me, and then we just rushed towards the (INAUDIBLE). I live in the southern part of Oahu island, and everywhere it was pretty hectic as people were trying to reach for gas, trying to reach for supplies.
So we were very, very happy to be able to get home, because we knew that here we are outside of the elevation (ph) area. So we will be here safe. So it took us a really long time to get here, but once we arrived here, we knew that we were in a safe place. And we are outside of the elevation (ph) area. Still, though, we're about -- we are pretty close to beach, so we are just holding on tight and just hoping for the best.
STOUT: OK. So you're staying home. You believe you'll find safe shelter there.
Have other shelters been set up for other individuals who have no safe place to go at home?
DAVILA: Yes, that is correct. Shelters are being set up around Oahu island. The Red Cross has been doing a magnificent job helping out and reaching out to people.
But I should point out that in the Waikiki area, people, based on the situation that happened 13 months ago with the earthquake in Chile, people were now believing of the seriousness of these alerts. So, actually, the police, the Honolulu Police Department, had to intervene around 10:30 p.m. today to actually alert people of the seriousness of the situation and just evacuate everybody from Waikiki area.
STOUT: You know, I've been seeing some reports online of panic-buying in Hawaii as the tsunami waves approach, panic-buying of food and water. Have you encountered that?
DAVILA: Yes. Actually, there is -- we have a gas station about three blocks from here, and we were planning to actually stock up on gas, and it was just impossible, because the line was very easily 30 to 40 cars just piled up, one after another. Then -- so we decided just to, again, make (ph) in that line and just making it home, because there came a point about midnight that the authorities were just recommending, if you didn't have time, please, just stay home, clear the roads, so that emergency vehicles can reach locations as fast as possible.
And, also, the people trying to evacuate, they have better transportation options. But I heard over the news, it's just been over and over, particularly bottled water. People have just been stocking up at places such as Wal-Mart. I've been following the news, and it's just been really crazy.
STOUT: Well, Damian Davila, thank you very much for joining us and describing the moments leading up to when this tsunami wave generated from that earthquake in Japan is set to come ashore there in Hawaii.
Damian Davila there, joining us live.
Now, my next guest is Ryan Shiro He is a geophysicist with the NOAA. That is the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He joins us on the line from Hawaii.
And first, can you confirm exactly when the waves are set to hit? From Damian, just then, he told us it would be 3:21 a.m. local time. And also, just how large the waves will be when they do come ashore in Hawaii?
RYAN SHIRO, NOAA GEOPHYSICIST: Good morning. Yes, the waves in Hawaii will be sweeping the state starting now. They would have already impacted Kauai a couple -- a few minutes ago, and will be here on Oahu very shortly. They will of course reach Maui next, and the big island after that.
So, over the next few minutes, we'll see a first wave coming through the state. And over the next hour or two, we'll see this play out and get an idea of what the damage will be like.
STOUT: We've been hearing waves four to six feet high. Is that correct?
SHIRO: Yes, that's a good estimate for the maximum sizes in different places. The height can vary tremendously depending on local topography. But the places we worry about the most are areas that have large bays or harbors such as Hilo Bay, Kahului Bay, Haleiwa Bay, for example.
STOUT: You mentioned Kauai. The waves have already crashed assure on that island in Hawaii. Any initial reports of any sort of destruction or impact there?
SHIRO: Well, I actually had to step out of the operations room to take the interview. So I'm not in the heat of the moment right now with the data. So I can't give you that latest information. I don't know.
STOUT: I understand. But perhaps you can describe if there are many low-lying areas in Kauai that would make itself more vulnerable to the tsunami waves.
SHIRO: Possibly. The area of Nawiliwili Bay in Kauai is notorious for trapping tsunami energy and amplifying it. So that's one area we look at very closely.
STOUT: OK. Now, can you describe to our audience how an ocean wave generated from, yes, a major earthquake in Japan can cross the entire Pacific Ocean and reach Hawaii, and still have that potential for destruction?
SHIRO: Well, a tsunami is not like a normal wave. A tsunami happens when the whole ocean gets kicked up and drops. So, in this case, an earthquake moves the sea floor, basically changes the shape of the sea floor, and that pushes the water up and then gravity pulls it down.
And so what happens in a tsunami is the whole ocean is moving all the way to the bottom. And so you have the full weight of the ocean behind the wave. And so that's why the force is so strong. And the tsunami travels so efficiently, that it doesn't lose much energy across the ocean.
STOUT: OK. And also, have you been pleased with the early warning and the reaction among residents in Hawaii so far?
SHIRO: Yes. Hawaii is really very well prepared for these sorts of emergencies as one of the best tsunami warning systems in the world. And residents know what to do when a tsunami happens.
In fact, about a year ago, we had a good exercise of this, if you will, with the 2010 Chilean tsunami event. So people here have this fresh on their minds.
STOUT: OK. Has adequate shelter been set up for everyone across the island chains there in Hawaii for this event that is taking place right now?
SHIRO: Yes, I believe so. State emergency officials have set up a number of evacuation shelters, and these are all predefined ahead of time. They're published in the phone books, they're published on Web sites. And residents who do live or work in evacuation zones can get out of those areas and into these evacuation shelters.
STOUT: OK. Well, Ryan Shiro, thank you very much for stepping out, taking this interview with us. And please go back, consult with your colleagues. Any additional information, call in again with us here at CNN International.
That was Ryan Shiro of the NOAA, joining us live on the line from Hawaii.
And while we wait to see what will happen in Hawaii, Indonesia has lifted its tsunami warning. Now, the tsunami warning was issued for most of the Pacific Rim, but just to reiterate, Indonesia has lifted its warning.
Now, in parts of Japan, transportation is still shut down, and people are trying to make their way home in the dark. Now, this is dramatic footage from an office in Japan as the earthquake struck Friday afternoon.
OK. And that was the scene in CNN's Tokyo bureau earlier today, at 2:22 p.m. local time.
My colleague, my producer there in Japan, Junko Aguro (ph), is running to her desk there. You can see the video. The 8.9 magnitude quake, it was the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in at least 100 years.
And do keep in mind, this epicenter was 400 kilometers away from Tokyo, and yet this is what it looked like in the Japanese capital. And since that initial 8.9 magnitude quake, there have been more than 30 aftershocks.
About one hour after the quake hit, CNN began to live-stream some extraordinary images of the advancing tsunami along Japan's northeastern coast. Homes, ships, cars all being washed away in the torrent as people tried to escape.
Not everyone got away in time. You can see there vehicles left bobbing in the wake of the waves.
When we started to see these pictures from the air, the scale of the disaster there in Sendai, very close to the epicenter, the scale of the destruction, it became frighteningly apparent. There it is, that wall of water and debris, tearing across agricultural land in Miyagi prefecture in northeastern Japan, ripping homes from their foundations.
And as if the devastation wasn't complete, just look at this footage of what is now a wall of sludge leaving some of the few remaining buildings engulfed by planes. Now, we have seen some destructive images over the years, but few will be able to recall watching anything quite as jaw- dropping as this unfolding before their eyes.
Now, it is little surprise that these events have had a crippling effect on Japan's transport system, and I want to show you some footage from the airport in Sendai. Again, that is the closest city to the epicenter in northeast Japan.
It is not just aircraft that are going nowhere. On the roof of the building, which has effectively become an island, you can see many people there. They're standing, they're stranded. They're waiting for help.
Even some 400 kilometers south, in Tokyo, all flights in and out of Narita International Airport have been canceled. The times of departures board have been wiped and replaced with one word: "Indefinite."
Now, thousands of people were left stranded at the airport, but millions were affected when the Tokyo Metro was forced to close. About six million people use it every day, meaning a long journey home for many and a night at the office for many, many more. Now, we are told though that some transportation services are back up and running now.
Now, the quake is the most powerful to hit Japan in at least 100 years, and there is increasing concern about the state of the country's nuclear power plants. The IAEA says that there is a heightened state of alert at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but they say a fire at the Onagawa nuclear plant has been extinguished.
Now, Japan's prime minister says no radioactive leaks have been reported. And the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says four power plants close to the quake have been successfully shut down.
Now, we showed you some fires just a moment ago, but nothing compared to this. This was the scene at the Cosmo oil refinery in Shiba. That is just outside Tokyo. This video, filmed a few hours ago.
A storage tank can be seen below billowing smoke and flames. And we're being told that this blaze is still burning now. Now, the plant was forced to close, and this, combined with other closures, has impacted oil prices as far away as the United States.
Peter Sammons is a professor of geophysics at University College London, and we asked him if this was the big earthquake Japan has been embracing for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER SAMMONS, PROFESSOR OF GEOPHYSICS, UCL: If you're talking about the Tokyo region, probably not. About 90 years ago, they had the great Kanto earthquake which devastated Tokyo. And that earthquake was on the Nankai Trough, which is south of Tokyo, while here we're looking to the Japan Trench, which is to the east and north of Tokyo.
So, in a sense, that sort of risk probably hasn't diminished to Tokyo. And we would expect a major earthquake on the Nankai Trough at some stage. Again, we can't say when it will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: We'll continue to give you the latest on the earthquake in Japan and its aftermath, but Saif Gadhafi, the son of the Libyan leader, is speaking right now. Let's listen in.
SAIF GADHAFI, MOAMMAR GADHAFI'S SON (through translator): As we all know, there was some unrest. And there's always been unrest between different factions and between the (INAUDIBLE) in Egypt and the Muslims. And nobody said anything about that.
Because the only person that benefits from any revolution is the armed groups, well-organized groups. It does not benefit anybody else apart from these people. You take advantage of that, and that's the opportunity given.
Look at the people. You can see them throughout the country. They're asking us to (INAUDIBLE), to free them from all these armed groups.
Benghazi is the industrial commercial center of Libya. People are working to earn money. And now look at it. Even children cannot go to their own school. They cannot have a daily normal life. And overnight, everything happened.
You see the latest gathering by women. They went out on the streets. Why? They're frightened. They don't know what's going on.
But look at them. This time is different. They are much happier because they were intimidated and they were frightened and they were pressurized (ph) and frightened (ph).
LU STOUT: All right, live pictures there from Libya state TV. You've been listening in to the son of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Saif Gadhafi, in a rather impassioned speech speaking just then. He said, quote, "the people, the country are asking us to free them from all these armed groups." He was addressing a group of his supporters and that on Libyan state television. We will continue to monitor the situation in Libya. It is now day 24 of the ongoing unrest between pro-Gadhafi forces, anti-government forces.
But at this moment, our focus this hour is on Hawaii. A tsunami, generated from that 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan earlier on Friday could hit Hawaii any time now. We heard a report that it has already hit the island of Kauai and will sweeping the other islands of Hawaii as well very soon. And people are bracing themselves for the larges waves and what they might carry ashore. And we can't say just how high the waves may be. It's believed to be as high as five feet. And people have moved to higher ground as a precaution. And we are told some have gone at least 1 kilometer inland just to be safe.
Now Mari Ramos is watching the situation in Hawaii for us and she joins us live once again -- Mari.
RAMOS: Kristie, what you're looking at in that I report right there and basically what you are listening to is the sirens that are set up along the coastline of Hawaii, there you hear one more time, that's what people would hear and heard earlier tonight in Hawaii once this earthquake took place and that tsunami warning was in place. This is from one of our I reporters.
Police was going along the area with loudspeakers asking people to get out and to move to higher ground. Of course all of this as a precaution after this very powerful quake.
One of the things that's happening in Hawaii, the waves, the initial waves were expected to reach the area about 20, 25 minutes ago. So far -- it's dark in Hawaii, but so far we have no confirmation that any waves have reached the area. If they have reached, how high they were. We're still waiting for confirmation from officials in that region. As soon as CNN gets confirmation on any of that, we will of course bring it to you.
The reason Hawaii of course is being watched so closely, we're talking about a densely populated areas vulnerable to tsunamis and that is why these warnings were in place, that is why people here were asked -- you're looking at a live image from one beach in Hawaii. The water there looks relatively calm. I can't tell you if it's low tide or high tide, but of course this is just one area that is being monitored. And you can see a live cam right now.
Again, we have no confirmation of any waves so far hitting Hawaii. This would have been the time that they would be arriving. It would be expected that the islands farther to the north and to the west would have been the first ones to have actually the impact first.
I want to show you another thing. Can we take that Google Earth? I want to show you something about what we have in Hawaii. If you come back over here. Let's go ahead and -- oh, look like it's not working -- do we have that? Here we go. This is -- right over here this is what we have in Hawaii. We have these DART systems, NOAA has installed these DART systems t hat measure the water pressure and the water height. Where the quake occurred was way over here, so we're talking the DART systems here measured the initial waves.
I want to go ahead and move farther south and get all the way to Hawaii and show you over here, and Brandon is helping me out with this, the DART in here what it has measured so far. If there's a wave going to Hawaii, it would have affected these areas to the north here, but there are no DART systems there.
I'm going to go ahead and move it away. Could you move that up Brandon so they can see it? This is the water -- the other way -- the water column height. And there you have it. And you can see that so far just regular waves have been recorded, nothing significant to indicate that at least at this location near the Big Island of Hawaii there has been a tsunami.
So we don't have that information yet. We're monitoring it closely. This is a kind of a -- things that seismologists and the scientists are looking at to determine what is out there and what could be the indication. Just because this particular location hasn't measured anything, it doesn't' mean that other areas -- because if we remove this, Brandon, other areas - - this is the Big Island, so if we move this up -- there you go, that's the big island. But there are several other islands of course in the Hawaiian Island chain and these islands out here would have been the first ones to have received an impact from a tsunami should a tsunami happen. In this case, the energy coming in from this direction, from the north and west, and these areas would have been the first ones affected by the tsunami, Kristie.
LU STOUT: OK. Mari Ramos there. Thank you very much indeed. And let's cross to our affiliate in Hawaii, a television network there is monitoring the story very, very closely as the U.S. state braces itself for these tsunami waves to rush ashore.
DR. DAN WALKER, TSUNAMI ADVISER: Sure. Anyone who thinks because the first wave is relatively small takes comfort from that is making a mistake. So it could be a very dangerous situation here. And we have to be alert. We probably have to watch this thing for two hours, maybe three hours/
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctor, tell me why Waikiki is a protected area.
WALKER: Well, for one thing, it's -- if you look at the entire Hawaiian chain it's pretty much sheltered by all the islands to the northwest. So as far as a direct hit and as far as wrap around, it would seemingly be minimized in the Waikiki area. And historically we have that information too, that Waikiki is very often from events in the north Pacific not too severely struck. You know, in 1946, it was only 9 feet, that's bad, but there were other areas of this island that were much greater than 9 feet in '46. Same story goes in '52. And the elusions (ph) of '57.
So, yeah, it's concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, did you share that concern, obviously, with the folks inside the emergency operating center? And what was their reaction?
WALKER: Well, there's a lot of things going on in there. And I didn't share it with everyone. I'm sure they're concerned. And if they're not, maybe a little bit later on I'll remind them that they should be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, thank you very much. Doctor Dan Walker, the tsunami adviser to the city's department of --
LU STOUT: All right, coverage there from our affiliate station there in Hawaii. Of course, our Mari Ramos is also watching the situation in Hawaii very closely for us. Mari, what are you hearing now?
RAMOS: Kristie, we just got a new update from NOAA that does indicate that there have been some small waves that have been reaching the Hawaiian coastline. With the help of Brandon Miller, our senior meteorologist here at CNN and weather producer, I want to go ahead and take you to some of these areas.
Let's go ahead and take a look. The first one is Barbers Point in Hawaii where a .7 buoy there measured a .7 meter wave that has arrived, so just over a half a meter in this area right in here.
Brandon, if we can zoom out so people can see where this is in location to the rest of the Hawaiian chains. This would be right over here. The Big Island of Hawaii way over here to the south, so one of the locations like I was telling you, if there were locations that have received a wave, they would happen on this side first and over here last.
So, this is the first location that has reported a wave in Hawaii. And it's called Barbers Point at .7. This is the initial wave. It could indicate that there bigger waves coming after that. There's no way to know that for sure. That is why they had asked people to move away from the shoreline.
Kristie, we've got no information whether or not this wave reached the shoreline, how high it was when it actually got there.
What happens is these measurements that you're seeing are just offshore, so that measures it in the water. Once it reaches the shoreline, it could be significantly higher than that, or it may not be. So far, no confirmation of any kind of damage from this wave.
We have live pictures again from Hawaii. And I want to know what location in Hawaii this actually is. We have another location in Kauai Island, also in Hawaii, that measured a wave of 1.6. And that was also just in the last little while.
So there's no -- we have the first confirmations of the first waves that are beginning to reach the Hawaiian Islands as we speak, Kristie. The first location, Barbers Point Hawaii at .7 meters. That would be over toward the north and west area.
And if you come back over here to Google, I'll show you exactly the areas that we're talking about. And those live pictures to appear to have to see a little more agitated then we just had just a little while ago.
So one location, two locations, both of them measuring just over, around a meter wave heights in the Hawaiian Islands.
And I just to make sure that you understand this, this is the first initial waves that are reaching the area. It is very possible, because a tsunami is a series of waves -- and lets go back to the live pictures if we still have them. A tsunami is a series of waves that will be coming along. Definitely not a good idea like that guy right there. It looks like he's riding his bike to be out there to try to witness something like this. The water can come in very, very quickly. And at speed, once they reach the shoreline, easily maybe 20, 30 miles an hour where you would not be able to outrun this, even sometimes in a vehicle. So there you see that person there waving hello to the camera. Definitely not a good idea to be doing something like that.
Again, Kristie, confirmation of the first waves that have reached the Hawaiian Islands. The first one right over here about half a meter this one to the north. The next area that has reported already a wave of .7 meters also in the Hawaiian Islands. That location called Barbers Point, Hawaii reporting their first tsunami waves from this massive earthquake -- Kristie.
LU STOUT: OK. Mari Ramos there. Many thanks indeed for that.
Now Japan's national police say that 64 people have been killed after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck at about 2:45 Friday afternoon. Now across large parts of the country buildings shook violently. Some people say the tremors went on for minutes, not just seconds. And a massive tsunami washed ashore in northeastern Japan sweeping away entire homes. Now this is more footage from inside an office in Japan as the earthquake struck Friday afternoon.
Now it's hard to imagine the eventual death toll won't be higher than what we already know.
Now this is footage from inside Japan's parliament as the earthquake hit Friday afternoon. The prime minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, has appealed for calm and cooperation as the government coordinates rescue and relief efforts. And he is urging people not to panic and to be patient and to help one another.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAOTO KAN, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (through translator): The government will do everything possible to minimize the damage. It will do its utmost. The government will puts friends together and work hard in tackling this disaster. We therefore ask the people of Japan to exercise the spirit of friend, fraternity, help each other and to act fast and to help one's family and neighbors. We should all help to get -- help each other to minimize the damage. We ask you to act in such a way that it will be possible to minimize the damage. This will be my greetings as the head of the disaster relief headquarters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LU STOUT: Now we have had a startling reminder about the power of the earth today. And with it incredible evidence of the punishing power of water. Now as the boats as you see here are simply thrown about by the torrent, it is difficult to believe that people are still in their cars on the bridge right there trying to escape the tsunami.
Now the havoc being wrecked by this event is utterly incredible.
And here's another example of the water at work. Now this was an earthquake that started at sea. And the effect on the ocean off Japan is remarkable. Just look at the whirlpool here. Any vessels in the vicinity of this surely wouldn't have stood a chance.
And Japan's Kato News Agency is reporting that one ship carrying 100 people has been swept out to sea by the sheer force of the tsunami.
Now joining me now on the line is Sunita Kumar. Now she joins you from Tokyo's Narita Airport. She is stranded at the airport. Sunita, thank you for joining us here on CNN. Describe the scene around you and how you came to be stranded there.
SUNITA KUMAR, STRANDED PASSENGER: Yes. At the airport, the earthquake hit at about 3:00 pm and all the planes -- all the flights going in and out were subsequently canceled. I think everyone here is planning on spending the night. It was a little bit hectic earlier in the night, but everyone here is now planning on spending the night.
So it's' getting a little better, but definitely I think people are getting stressed out.
LU STOUT: How many people are with you?
KUMAR: Hard to say. At least, in my general vicinity a few hundred. Throughout the airport, probably a lot more than that.
LU STOUT: OK. And has any presence of authorities or anyone's been there to offer blankets, food or water. Any assistance of any kind?
KUMAR: Yes. Definitely we've received blankets and sleeping bags. And we've also received snack type food throughout the night and water. And there's some medical aid stations around the airport right now.
LU STOUT: OK. Obviously, you're phone line or your mobile phone line is working, but can you give us an idea of the critical infrastructure, you know the stuff that me -- that perhaps some viewers take for granted -- power, electricity, water, et cetera. What do you have? What do you not have?
KUMAR: Yeah, we have actually a surprising amount. Most people have been able to get on the internet. It's kind of off and on. They just opened up all the land line telephones in the airport. And for free, so that's how I'm able to call you. Earlier in the night, they had to turn off the air conditioning and heater, so it got a little cold in the airport. So we were wrapped up in our blankets. But for the most part, electricity has been working, water has been turned on. So conditions haven't been too bad other than having to sleep at the airport.
LU STOUT: OK. That's good to hear.
Now where were you at 2:26 pm local time, the moment when the earthquake struck today?
KUMAR: Yeah, I was waiting in the terminal. My flight was scheduled to leave in about an hour. And we were just -- I was just hanging around the terminal. And then the shaking started. I think most people were in shock for a little bit. And then people started kind of driving under the airport terrace (ph) and waiting for it to end.
And then after, we were kind of just -- for the next 20 or 30 minutes -- we were experiencing a few aftershocks. So just watching the news and waiting for news to come. And then after about 30 minutes, they evacuated us outside and we were standing on the tarmac for about an hour or so. And then were allowed back in the airport once it was announced that it was OK to go back in.
LU STOUT: Now, that must have been so frightening for you. Did you see any damage out on the tarmac or to the building there at Narita Airport?
KUMAR: It's not in my area. It was actually very surprising. I think the airport is suited very well for an earthquake. I've heard from other people that I talked to, though, that they saw some ceiling pieces on the floor around the area, but not too much damage. I haven't heard of any injuries or anything like that. I think people are mostly just waiting to get home.
LU STOUT: OK. And when that 8.9 magnitude quake struck, what did it feel like?
KUMAR: It was pretty intense. It was kind of like a roller coaster. We got down on the ground and you could just feel the ground going. And it felt like it wouldn't end for awhile. And the glass was breaking pretty badly, so that was pretty loud.
But thank god nothing really huge fell or nothing huge broke.
LU STOUT: And a quick question for you Sunita, do you know -- unfortunately we'll have to wrap you up there. Sunita Kumar joining us, a stranded passenger calling us from Narita Airport. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us.
Now let's go back to Hawaii where we have another eyewitness, this on the island of Maui. Ryan McGinnis joins us on the line now. And Ryan, we were hearing earlier from our meteorologist that there were first signs of the waves coming to shore in Hawaii had they been confirmed. Anything to report from where you are in Maui?
RYAN MCGINNIS, SHORELINE WITNESS: Yeah, I'm in Maui here about 10 feet away from the shoreline. And we did have previous surges there. Right now it seems like the surges have gone back, but you do see the signs of the tsunami. Waves are actually, I guess, increase in water level and also it's been coming to the streets, you know, where they shouldn't be.
LU STOUT: You're describing them as surges and you're saying that the water levels have reached the streets. How far away are the streets from the coastline?
MCGINNIS: The streets normally -- not to give a panic to anyone here, but it's about 20 feet away from where it should be. The water has come in about 20 feet from where it should be. We have a few other witnesses here and there's waves coming in and out though. Right now it seems to have receded. The water has receded a great -- a lot. It's still going out, and it seems like it's going to surge in. So I think we're going to try and draw back. We're going to draw back a little bit. It's way out now. The water is reaching about 30, 40 feet out where it shouldn't be. Reefs are exposed, rocks are exposed.
Right now that's all I can give you right here.
LU STOUT: Ryan, could you describe the position you're at right now and whether you and the people around you have plans to reach for higher ground?
MCGINNIS: Yeah, right now it seems -- everyone is calm. There are some residents actually in houses feet from the beach here. And they seem like they're home, although the Maui County police department, the Maui County officials and the Coast Guard have done evacuations here as they have brought people away from the danger zone and evacuations and all that.
It seems like the water is receding a lot more now. So -- about 50 feet out from where the shoreline used to be.
LU STOUT: OK. And can you give us an idea of how you were alerted of the approaching tsunami? Do you hear sirens? Were informed by SMS? How did that process go on?
MCGINNIS: There were sirens going off from 10:00 all the way until about 2:30 and the sirens are still going to -- they're going to set in. The choppers have been going and doing their rounds. The police department and Coast Guard have been illuminating the harbor line and the break walls of the harbor in Kahalui. And Kahalui is up central Maui. And basically they are keeping a harsh eye out.
And right now the water has receded almost 100 feet out. Yeah, so waves that's coming in, it's out of visibility right now. You can't see it.
LU STOUT: Ryan, you were describing earlier -- you described them as surges. You described the earlier waves that crashed ashore reaching 20 feet, reaching the streets. You're now describing how the waves have receded quite some way.
MCGINNIS: The water has receded.
LU STOUT: Yeah, are there any people around you advising you and others around you to get to higher ground?
MCGINNIS: We're moving to higher ground right now. This is the biggest sign. Can't get much bigger than this. The water has receded out about 200 feet. And I just -- if it recedes out it's got to come in. So yeah, we're going to move to higher ground right now.
LU STOUT: OK. When you say we are going to be moving to higher ground, how many people are with you just gaping at this sight, looking at it? What's happening right now?
MCGINNIS: Right now the Maui Police Department has done a great job of evacuating everyone from the beach, but there is a lot of -- a couple of people here. And we are working together here right now to try and give you guys the latest update to this. But as of that, there's about maybe two people on the beach observing right now getting ready to run once they (inaudible). And also there are some residents here. I'd say roughly about, on the entire coastline of Wailuku (ph) about 50 people around here.
LU STOUT: OK. What is the general feeling among you and the other people there about what is happening?
MCGINNIS: Just astonished. They haven't -- we haven't seen something like this for years. We had something like this happen where the water has receded greatly out before my time, you know, but everyone seems to be kind of in the dark right now, literally.
LU STOUT: How you gone through anything like this before, Ryan?
MCGINNIS: Yeah, we went through this before. And, you know, we were really prepared for this here in Hawaii. And, you know, we have a tsunami warning courses and what not. But the thing is, right now we've -- I've never personally experienced this firsthand, looking at it at the point where the water has gone out, where the street lights are out and I see reefs. And you know, this is a spot where we come here to surf and this is not normal at all, not normal.
LU STOUT: OK. I hope that as you're talking to us that you're making way to higher ground, because what you're describing to me sounds very, very alarming indeed. Ryan, it's also 3:00 am in the morning there. The earthquake took place hours ago in Japan. At what time in Hawaii were you and other people alerted that a tsunami was approaching? How much lead time did you have time to get prepared and get ready?
MCGINNIS: Oh, we had much time. We had -- the sirens and the television, radio messages went out way, way along time ago. Maybe around 10:00. And, you know, a lot of people had time. 10:00 is when they started firing up the sirens, but we were notified of this possibly 7:00, 8:00. So we were very notified. And people are taking all the precautions whatsoever.
There are a few observers taking pictures. There are some people here, but that number I gave you (inaudible). There's about two more people here. We've got, you know, a couple of people here (inaudible). Yeah, I just had a gentleman here, you know, tell me look how far out the water is. This is not normal.
LU STOUT: Ryan, it's not normal. And as riveting as it is to hear you about it, you and all the people who are around you have to head to higher ground, because what you're describing -- the receding water proceeds usually the actual wave.
OK. Ryan, I'm going to let you go. Thank you very much for joining us. Yeah, Ryan McGinnis joining us there live from Maui. What he was describing there was really potentially quite alarming.
Now this, meanwhile, just into here. The Kyoto News Agency is reporting that police in Miyagi Prefecture are saying that between 200 and 300 bodies have been found in the coastal city of Sendai alone.
And this is video of the massive tsunami that the quake unleashed on Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan. Now you see that wall of water washing away entire homes.
Now local media in Japan say that the earthquake sparked fires in more than 80 places across the country. And as I said, Kyoto News Agency is now reporting that police say 200-300 bodies have washed up in Sendai.
Now this is an oil refinery in Chiba Prefecture that caught fire after the earthquake. We are being told that this blaze is still burning. The firefighters have been battling to put it out.
Now authorities say several nuclear power plants in the northeast have been shut down, but Japan's prime minister says that there have been no radioactive leaks. And though a few thousand residents near a nuclear power plant have been told to evacuate.
Now since phone services have been disrupted in Japan by the quake, Google has activated its people finder service to help lost or displaced people get in touch with each other. And you'll find it by going to Google and searching people finder.
Now we are going back to the situation in Hawaii. Mari Ramos is at the international weather center watching it all. And Mari, don't know if you heard that interview with the eyewitness just then in Maui, but what he was describing was very, very, very alarming.
RAMOS: Very alarming. And of course, the descriptions of the water, the ocean receding in some cases 50, 100 feet from the shoreline, Kristie. That is the typical scenario, the indication that a tsunami is coming.
Now, I want to show you precisely where -- you're looking at live pictures there -- I know it's dark and it's very hard to tell, but those are images of the water right now of the beach in Hawaii. I'm not sure which location this actually is, but you can see the water coming up fairly quickly at that location right there. You may actually looking right now at a tsunami in progress in the Hawaiian Islands.
Now, what you are -- your witness was describing just a little while ago, it is that typical scenario, the water receding and then the waves will be coming in very, very quickly. The farther out the water goes, probably the higher that wave will actually be.
Now he was talking to us from Maui. And he was talking to us from the north side of Maui. And at that location, Kristie, what we were noticing is that the tidal gauges at that location right at the harbor were -- went down maybe about half a meter or so at first, but then very, very quickly within a matter of minutes, went up to six meter high. And that is -- not to say that that will be the wave height once it reaches the shore, but at the harbor, the wave -- the level of the water went up very quickly within a matter of minutes up to six meters. It almost went off the chart here.
And we're looking at information coming to us from NOAA. There are several buoys in that area that are measuring the tide. And looking at that image right now, you can easily see -- Brandon are you watching this - - you can easily see the water continuing to coming very, very quickly. We could be looking at an initial wave here or another wave here when it comes to the tsunami.
You know, when we started talking, Kristie, about a minute-and-a-half, two minutes ago, the water -- you could see the sand at that location. And now you cannot see the sand any longer. You can see that these are not typical waves of what you would experience at the beach, for example. You know, one wave going out, one wave rolling in. It's almost like they're in rapid succession here. And these are very small almost ripples. If you were standing there, I'm not sure how fast that would be going or how quickly this would actually be moving. But definitely a situation that is much, much different than what we were seeing just a little while ago.
Here's a view from another perspective -- can't believe, that looked like a helicopter light -- OK, I was afraid it might be a vehicle going by there. You can see the water here also very agitated, an indication of a tsunami approaching as well. And you can also see how far the water has receded from the shoreline.
Come back over to the weather map very quickly. This is the actual tidal gauge that I want to show you from Hawaii from that location where your witness was -- Ryan, I believe his name was -- was talking to us from, Kristie, where the water went up some six meters.
Let's take a look over here -- here we are back -- I want to show you, this is where you were talking -- Brandon, can we go ahead and zoom in to the area where the gentleman was telling us that the water had receded some 50 feet. Remember, this is on this other side of the Hawaiian Islands. And that tidal gauge is right over here where the water went up -- went down, and then very quickly, here you see it right there, went down about half a meter. So and then very quickly went up about six -- and Brandon is showing this right here, six to 6.5, almost seven meters high which is very, very significant, almost -- this is an indication of a wave -- this is in feet. Six to seven feet, he's correcting me.
This is very important, Kristie, and of course the first indications of a tsunami hitting the Hawaiian Islands.
We are continuing to monitor this and of course we'll bring it to you. And those images are really amazing to see those waves continuing to move in. The entire Pacific Rim is still under that tsunami alert, so we're not done with this just yet.
LU STOUT: And Mari before you go very quickly, in addition to we're bracing to see in Hawaii, where else will the tsunami waves hit next?
RAMOS: There are other areas. Of course, we're still looking at areas from Alaska all the way across down toward Hawaii. Let's go ahead and head back to you. They're telling me, Kristie, to send it back to you immediately.
LU STOUT: OK. Mari, thank you for that.
You're watching CNN International. Let's cross to our sister network CNN U.S. for more coverage.