Today, March 11, at 2:46 PM, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, Japan's strongest ever, occurred offshore Miyagi prefecture. Over the next 45 minutes 4 more quakes were recorded, each with a magnitude of at least 7, at points along a line stretching hundreds of kilometers, roughly parallel to the Pacific coast, in the direction of Tokyo. Within 40 min. of the first quake, tsunami had begun inundating coastal areas, with devastating effect. As of now, multiple waves of tsunami have devastated hundreds of kilometers of Japan's coastline and lowlying areas inland. Nearly 9 hours have passed as of this writing, and tsunami warnings remain in effect for most of the country, with the most vulnerable areas told to expect waves as high as 10 meters. NHK, the public broadcaster, puts the death toll as of 12:20 AM at more than 200, with hundreds confirmed missing. Petroleum refineries are ablaze, fires are raging out of control in several communities, millions are without power, thousands of homes are uninhabitable, and rail networks are paralyzed.
Update, 12:40 AM: death toll raised by NHK to more than 300