Earthquake hits Japan and shuts airports

11 Mar 2011

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake rattled northern Japan today – east of Sendai and close to Tokyo – triggering a tsunami, closing airports and halting other modes of transport.

The earthquake struck at 1445 local time and the resultant tsunami sent waves crashing into cities along the northern coast, including Tokyo. Consequentially, Narita Airport has been shut down and flights have been diverted to other cities while Haneda Airport has stopped flights from departing but allows airlines to land.

Japan Airlines (JAL) has grounded one flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo, scheduled for 1545 this afternoon, and its morning flight was diverted from Narita Airport to Haneda Airport, stated a JAL spokesperson.

Cathay Pacific re-routed morning flights bound for Tokyo Narita Airport from Taipei and Hong Kong. They were diverted to Osaka and Nagoya respectively. Passengers can check for updates here. Passengers flying to Tokyo on other airlines are advised to check flight status updates.

Tokyo’s bullet train and underground systems have also come to a standstill. East Japan Railway have stated on their website that they have suspended operations until further notice. To check the latest situation, click here.

The countries and regions forming the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ including the Philippines, Taiwan, Guam and Hawaii have issued tsunami alerts following the incident as waves are predicted to travel and hit other regions. Officials in the Philippines have evacuated people from the eastern coast while Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau predicts that the tsunami waves could hit between 0930 GMT and 1300 GMT.

Alisha Haridasani

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