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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
tsunami washing over japan A massive tsunami engulfs a residential area after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on March 11, 2011. (Photo: x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

Major Earthquake Rocks Japan

Magnitude 8.8 quake creates massive, destructive tsunami

By Miranda Rector | March 11 , 2011

Update - March 13, 3 p.m.: In the wake of Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan's Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, said that the country is facing its "worst crisis" since World War II.

Four nuclear power plants are now in danger, up from two on Saturday. One of these plants is located 75 miles north of Tokyo. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the site of an explosion Saturday, appeared to be in partial meltdown Sunday, according to The New York Times. Officials have said that some residents near the plant have are showing signs of radiation exposure.

Also on Sunday, the Japan Meteorological Agency updated the strength of Friday's quake from magnitude 8.8 to 9.0. Death toll estimates have also increased. Officials said that in the hard-hit Miyagi prefecture alone, there could be more than 10,000 casualties.

Stay tuned to the
Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website as news about the aftermath of the disaster in Japan continues to develop.

A magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck northeast Japan on Friday, causing a destructive tsunami that destroyed homes and farms and killed thousands of people. It was the largest earthquake to hit Japan since records have been kept. It was also the fifth strongest in the world since 1900.

The epicenter of the quake was in the waters off the east coast of Japan, near the city of Sendai. It was so powerful that skyscrapers built to withstand earthquakes dangerously swayed as the ground shook.

During the quake, "the road was moving up and down like a wave," Kumi Onodera told Reuters news agency. "Things were on fire and it was snowing."

Because Japan is located in an unstable area where continental plates and oceanic plates meet at faults, the country is regularly hit with earthquakes and is well prepared to handle them.

But Friday's quake was unlike anything Japan or its people had felt before.

"I never experienced such a strong earthquake in my life," Toshiaki Takahashi, an official at Sendai City Hall, told The New York Times. "I thought it would stop, but it just kept shaking and shaking, and getting stronger."

The earthquake damaged roads, homes, businesses, and power plants. As of Saturday morning, 5.57 million homes were without power and more than one million homes were without water, according to the Kyodo news network.

The entire city of Kesennuma burst into flames, and two nuclear power facilities were badly damaged. On Saturday, a reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, located in northern Japan, exploded, creating a radiation leak. The explosion was a result of critical failures of the plant's cooling system caused by the quake.

After the earthquake, came the tsunami. A devastating 32-foot wave washed over Japan's coast, completely wiping out towns and farmland and killing nearly 2,000 people, according to Kyodo. Officials are still searching for survivors.

The strength and momentum of the earthquake and tsunami caused natural disasters to occur east of Japan. In the United States, Hawaii, California, and Oregon have all been hit by smaller tsunamis caused by the quake.

Hawaii, being closest to Japan, was the first to be hit. Most people had already evacuated or found higher ground by the time the tsunamis came in. Low-lying areas were completed flooded, but no major damage was reported.

Tsunamis also touched the West Coast. In Oregon, hundreds of people evacuated as six-foot-high waves destroyed docks and ports.

"I watched the docks bust apart. It buckled like a graham cracker," Ted Scott told the Associated Press.

Similar damage was reported in parts of California, where waves as big as eight feet slammed into docks. In Half Moon Bay, a large fishing area near San Francisco, boat owners took their boats out to sea where it was safe, lessening the property damage.

Stay tuned to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website for the latest news on the earthquake in Japan and for information on how to help the recovery effort.

EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northeast Japan on Friday, March 11, causing a destructive tsunami that reached the west coast of the United States. Scholastic News Kid Reporters are collecting information about the quake and its aftermath and talking to people who have family and friends in Japan and looking into how kids can help with relief efforts. Find their stories in the Earthquake in Japan Special Report.

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