Massive Earthquake In Japan Forces Evacuations In Hawaii, Strands Travelers

As you probably know by now, Japan was hit by a 8.9-magnitude earthquake earlier today that sent devastating waves crashing into the island nation, causing hundreds of known fatalities and triggering tsunami warnings in Hawaii and along the Pacific coastline of North and South America.

In anticipation of the waves hitting Hawaii, the state’s governor ordered the evacuation of people located in coastal areas. They have been advised to move to areas at least 50 feet above sea level and 100 feet inland.

At least four airports in Hawaii — Hilo, Lihue, Kahului and Honolulu International — have been shut down and workers have moved equipment to higher ground.

CNN reports that people in Hawaii have been told to stay away from hospitals unless it is absolutely necessary.

In Japan, Narita Airport, which handles a good chunk of international flights in and out of the Tokyo area, was shut down following the quake, forcing planes that were en route to land elsewhere. The U.S. Navy air facility in Atsugi, Japan, granted permission for commercial planes to land.

Narita has since begun opening up the runway to outbound flights, however, the train lines and many of the roads leading to the airport remain closed.

Some nuclear power plants and oil refineries in Japan were shut down as a result of the earthquake. Millions have been left without power. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said there have been no reported leaks of radioactive material from the power plants.

This is obviously a developing story, as the waves are expected to make land in Hawaii at around 8 a.m. ET, followed by the west coast at anywhere from 10 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET.