tv ABC News Good Morning America ABC March 11, 2011 7:00am-9:00am EST
good morning, america. breaking news. the day the earth shook. a massive 8.9 earthquake strikes japan and the pacific, triggering a gigantic tsunami. entire islands wiped out. look at these incredible pictures of the giant wave as it rushes inland. buildings swept off their foundations. rivers changing direction. sweeping away cars, boats and people. the entire west coast, under a tsunami warning at this hour. this is a special edition of "good morning america," "tsunami
in the pacific." and good morning, america. that earthquake that hit japan overnight is just devastating. the largest in japan's history. 1,000-times more powerful than the quake that hit new zealand almost 3 weeks ago. the strongest in the world since the indian ocean earthquake of 2004. spider jets have been deployed to inspect quake damage. the entire country is under a state of emergency because of a failing power plant there. it is devastating. >> the magnitude of the earthquake was 8.9. it is huge. the biggest earthquake on record since they started keeping records in the early 1800s in japan. it's been followed by at least 19 massive aftershocks. many of which have been over 6.0 themselves. there are reports in tokyo, 30 minutes after the quake hit, buildings were still shaking and swaying. there's been massive power outages. as you just said, you talked about that nuclear power plant. there's been a state of emergency declared there,
because they had a cooling system failure. no reports of any radiation leaks, thank heavens. but people are being told to stay indoors. >> and the tsunami heading towards 20 different countries in the pacific, including our pacific coast in hawaii. the president has weighed in. he was woken up by his chief of staff, bill daley, at 4:00 this morning. so far no, reports of u.s. casualties, u.s. citizens in japan, being hurt. >> we know that military bases in japan, and there are several bases there. and are taking aircraft because narita airport is closed. and debris, cars on the runways of the airport. you can see the massive wall of water and mud and debris, being pushed ashore. it's an enormous tsunami.
time. the u.s. navy chief now says u.s. facilities in japan are safe. but juju chang is here. and the death toll now up to 40. >> absolutely. and sadly, those numbers will likely mount. the japanese prime minister is calling for calm, as his country mounts a massive emergency response. japan's military is being dispatched to the quake zone. airports have been shut down. subways have been shut down. workers in tokyo, hundreds of miles away from the epicenter, described grabbing on to the edge of their desks and just hanging on. the largest earthquake in japan's recorded history hit at 2:46 in the afternoon local time. what followed was this wave of destruction. a tsunami 23 feet high, sweeping away everything in its path. watch here as boats are swept away in seconds. and cars, tossed around like toys. and massive debris fields surging across villages, hit by a wall of water.
waves of thick, muddy water swept over farmland. whole towns inundated. huge swaths of these family farms, likely destroyed for many years. widespread fires erupted immediately, due to broken gas lines during the quake. homes were burning out of control. flames even floating on water. one fire was reported in the turbine building of a nuclear power plant. but japan's prime minister insisted nuclear power plants are safe. no reports of nuclear leaks. >> translator: some of the nuclear power plants have stopped automatically. but so far, no radioactive material or radiation has been confirmed to have been leaked to the outside. >> reporter: in tokyo, 240 miles away, violent shaking. crowds of people, rushing out of office builds. five aftershocks followed within an hour. one of them a powerful magnitude 7.1.
this newsroom, shaking in chaos. a meeting of government ministers, looking up in shock. witnesses shooting video with their cell phones. but japan and the world is gripped this morning from these stunning images from the northeast coast of japan. ground zero for the tsunami. and that wave of water is moving across the pacific. we should tell you a short time ago, there was a small 4.5 magnitude earthquake that struck hawaii, as residents there are bracing for that tsunami. seismologists believe it might hit within the hour. but there's been reports of fights breaking out and gas lines. and people are scrambling for higher ground. >> that's right. the tsunami is so scary in japan. we want to show people what it sounded like and felt like as it hit.
okay, we're going to check in with brian shero, at the tsunami warning center. we have been told that about 20 countries are in the path of the tsunami. what can you tell us about the size of the wave and where it's headed? >> tsunami is generated by the earthquake in japan. the largest earthquake in recorded history. the tsunami is going in an east-west direction. the tsunami is unfortunately pointed more or less at hawaii and the west coast of the u.s. so, yes. it's afejting many countries. and it's going to affect the u.s., too. >> we know now, it's expected to
hit hawaii around 10:00 eastern time. and then, as it moves down the coast, california, washington, oregon, all between 10:00 and 11:00 eastern time this morning. what kind of size of wave do you expect to hit our coast? >> well, the size of wave is going to vary, depending on the local topography conditions. but in some places, harbors with big bowl-shaped bays, the tsunamis could be larger. for example, in hilo, hawaii, we might see six-feet tsunamis. crescent city, california, is notorious for having large tsunamis. other places, such as port st. luis, california, we expect six-foot to eight-foot tsunamis. >> just hearing the word is so scary for some people who might be listening right now. if they're in the path of that tsunami, what should they do to protect themselves? >> the first thing to do is be aware of your situation.
turn on the radio or tv. and make sure you have the latest information. and if you're on the coastline, get away from the coast. one advantage of this situation, for people in the u.s., is there's plenty of notice. several hours warning. it doesn't take much time to get away from the danger zone. either go to high ground. or go to an upper floor of a strong building. >> good advice. thanks very much. tsunami warnings have been going on in honolulu. and coastal areas are evacuated all over hawaii. the first waves are expected to hit there. peter carlisle, mayor of honolulu, is joining us now. how many people are evacuating the coastal regions of hawaii? >> all of the people in the inundation zone of the tsunamis. we don't have an accurate count of that because we have tourists visiting, as well. but everybody in that zone, is being taken out of it. in the thousands and tens of thousands. >> and any given time, you have
about 100,000 tourists just in honolulu alone. are people complying with evacuation orders? >> so far, the evacuation is going as has been planned. we're now flying helicopters around the coastal areas to make certain that people are complying with demands to leave the area. >> and how far inland do people need to go? >> that actually varies depending on the topography. not only the ocean, but the land you're at, as well. what you have to do is take a look at what is called -- look at the inundation zone. we have that posted in our telephone books in honolulu. >> we are listening to the sirens that went off at 10:00 p.m. last night hawaii time, and the announcements to evacuate. at this point, we've heard reports that people are lined up at gas stations, even a little bit -- some scuffles have broken out. have you been hearing the same reports, as well? >> we have been hearing those reports. and we've asked everybody to
essentially stop doing that, to get out of the way, a that they're hindering the evacuation. it's not atypical for that to happen. >> and we've heard reports of tsunami that hit japan was 13 to 33 feet high. what are you hearing about the size of any tsunami wave that might hit hawaii? >> we're hearing all sorts of varieties. and the most important thing to remember is that it is unpredictable. it's not just a wave. it's a series of waves. and nobody knows how high each one of them is going to be. and nobody knows exactly which one will do the most damage. and we don't know how long they will last. they can last for a period of hours. the most important thing is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. >> you don't know at what point the all-clear will be given out? >> the all-clear is something that i will have to give. and that will be a long time from now. >> all right. mayor carlisle, we'll be
checking in with you throughout the morning. we hope that everybody gets out of harm's way in a safe area. and everything goes well this morning. thanks, mayor carlisle, for joining us. that tsunami could hit in the next hour. we're going to the rest of the pacific coast of the united states. we're going to mike von fremd. estimates now that the tsunami will hit around santa monica, around 11:00, 11:30 eastern standard time. what are the preparations there? >> reporter: the west coast tsunami center has sent down warnings from alaska down to mexico. here in california, beaches are under evacuation orders, starting at 5:00 a.m. pacific time. the wall of water is expected to come across here before 9:00 a.m. that's noon on the east coast. the areas expected to have maximum impact are san francisco, to the north, up to washington state, with a wave of water up to four to eight feet.
we have a nuclear power plant on the coast. it's in son luis obispo. it's well-protected. but there should be concern for people who live along the coast. and many businesses and people here are very concerned. george? >> thanks very much. let's go to sam at the smart screen right now, where he's tracking the tsunami. 20 dmuns the path right now. >> and numerous islands, as well, in the pacific. we're looking at the ring of fire. this is where it all happens. 90% of the earthquakes in the world happen around here. if you go to the recent one in christchur christchurch, remember that one? that was there. the indonesian earthquake. remember 2004, about 250,000 people were killed in the tsunami that happened there. recently, we're talking about the japan earthquake here. hawaii is in the center of all this. any tsunami moves to hawaii and up to the west coast area. let's go over how the tsunami is supposed to travel from this. the earthquake starts in japan. and the wave spreads across the
pacific ocean, to the hawaii area. kauai would be the first island to see anything move through that. and the waves will go across the island. and they're large, broad waves. they can wrap around an island. it's not just one part of the coastline that's in trouble there. the other thing we're watching for the time of that, is that issue along the california coastline and exactly what time it hits. there's a lot of bay areas in california. when the wave moves to these areas, it can get a little more damaging as it squeezes into the bays and creates worse waves. tsunami warnings around 9:00 pacific standard time. it could be a little earlier. could be a little later. could be bigger. we have a buoy warning system. we don't know much about the size of the waves until they pass those buoys. we'll talk about that later this morning. we're going to talk, now, to dr. michio kaku. you have friends and family in japan. have you been in contact with them? >> that's right.
we tried to call them on the telephone. and the entire tokyo metro system is knocked out. one of my relatives can't go home. he has to walk home. and the taxi lines. can you imagine new york city, 10 million people waiting for a taxi. the airports are out. you can't get out. the phone lines are dead. we can't contact our relatives anymore. one relative told me as she was walking in downtown tokyo, she could see the building sway. >> they are built that way. >> they are built to way. can you imagine walking down fifth avenue and see the empire state building sway? that's what you see in japan. >> let's talk about what's going on here beneath the earth. i saw you nodding your head when the mayor of honolulu told elizabeth the waves are very unpredictable. >> the pacific ocean is a pand, compared to the energy released
in the pacific. it's going to hit the united states. it's going to hit hawaii. that's where we're concerned about damage. the tsunami in japan went a mile inland. can you imagine a mile inland off the coast of a heavily-populated area? >> and what is site about the ring of fire? >> 90% of all earthquakes take place in the ring of fire. from the philippines, to japan, alaska, california, chile. remember the chilean earthquake a few years ago? the axis of the earth shifted itself because of the chilean earthquake. this earthquake is on that scale. that's the ring of fire, where most earthquakes are concentrated. >> we've seen 19 aftershocks. a small earthquake, as juju reported, in hawaii this morning. 4.5. should we be expecting more aftershocks? >> i think we should. yes. definitely, more aftershocks. every time you have a big one, another aftershock comes after that. already, people in japan are
bracing for the next one. >> okay. dr. kaku, thank you very much. japanese television reporters were describing the scene from their offices. take a look at what they rolled on. >> let's go back to what happened in about 20 minutes ago in our sendai newsroom. this is what it looked like earlier on. this is what miso looked like in tokyo. monitors falling off. cabinets falling. looks like a tsunami has been engulfing -- engulfing the port. you're seeing live footage of a tsunami engulfing the port area this is what is happening right as we speak.
this is from our camera reporter in miyagi. it looks like the tsunami has engulfed several cities is in miyagi prefecture. a tsunami has struck the area, obviously engulfing farms, homes, alongside the river. you can see the white tsunami waves, moving extremely rapidly upstream. obviously, the camera is shaking there, from aftershocks that are going on. looks like there's a fire that's happening inside the city. obviously, not being completely contained by firefighters. obviously someone inside that building, waving a white towel, seek help. obviously, doing the right thing, moving to higher ground. a large earthquake. magnitude 8.4, hit northern
japan. it has led to fires. and that fire in an oil refinery, completely under control. a large inferno. chief of prefecture. an oil refinery up in blaze. >> those images from nhk television in tokyo. it was upgraded from 8.4 to 8.9. it's worth noting that japan is a sophisticated country when it comes to quakes. >> we're getting reports that an entire ship, an entire ship carrying 100 people may have been swept away by that wave. that's the first report. now, to sam with the weather. >> we also had a report out of guam, the pacific tsunami warning center said the gauges there, a buoy measured a six-foot rise in the ocean floor of water. there was no damage around the island, we've been told. but all of the beaches have been closed. you monitor that wave as it moves across the pacific with the buoys to know what size they are and how fast they're moving.
let's get to the northeast. still flooding going on in that region, as the rain pulls out during the day today. very heavy rain. this was headline stories from last week and the week before. we have 89 river gauges in moderate to major flooding, from louisiana to new jersey and new york. well into massachusetts. the fear here is that the runoff over the next couple of days will put rivers four, five, six feet above flood levels. and that's devastating flooding for any part of the northeast. across the nation, the tsunami warnings along the west coast, where it's warm. 58 in san francisco today. seattle comes in about 53.
19 aftershocks since then. many of them over 6.0. a tsunami warning is in effect for 20 different countries. >> u.s. military says all americans are safe and accounted for. we'll talk to some of them in tokyo, coming up. [ male announcer ] those with frequent heartburn imagine a day when we can eat what we want
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earthquake out of japan andheading across the pacific. low klly it's about the rain and yes we had record rainfall over 2 1/2 inches in baltimore at bwi yesterday. liewlt lutherville cracked four inches and 4 1á in churchville. this is the hot -- 4 1/2 in churchville. this is a hot beefed reports. 2 1/2 inches in -- who the bed of reports. winds steady out of north now at 9, 10 miles perhour gusting to 27. 40 in baltimore and 45 in uteon and 30s and colder to the west. in fact western maryland planning to get there for the weekend winter weather' advisory with 2 to 4 inches of snow. we have sprinkles this morning getting out of here a few breaks of sun and a few isolated sprinkles this afternoon. we are aiming for a baltimore temperature of 5 #. winds gusting to 30 miles per hour. here's kim with traffic.
>> reporter: find some volume delays around the beltway 695 on the outer loop from 795 towards the baltimore national pike. looking live at 95 and route 32 in howard county, headed towards the capital beltway, all lanes open. traffic moving at a very good pace. not much in terms of accidents. more so flooding closures around the area. we have one reported in phoenix. carroll road closed at phoenix road because of high water. an accident in reisterstown at route 30 and butler road in a crash at beltway at fell difficult yeah road. now back up to new york for my of your tsunami coverage next with "good morning, america." we live in a neighborhood that has a lot of families, which is fantastic, and we'll have them over on friday nights for dinner. so when i shop, i do buy a lot of things at once. it helps me to save money. now at giant, you can save more every time you shop. take advantage of thousands of weekly specials, real deals, 10-for-10s, and more. and watch the savings rack up.
that is an oil refinery on fire in japan. we're back with breaking news coverage of that devastating earthquake in japan. an 8.9, one of the largest in japan's history. probably the largest in japan's history. the largest in the world, elizabeth, since the indian ocean earthquake in 2004. >> certainly, the largest since they started recording and measuring the earthquakes in the 1800s. there's been 19 aftershocks, since the first, major quake. many of the aftershocks measuring 6.0 and above.
and 20 countries under tsunami warning, including the west coast of the united states and hawaii. you can see the devastating damage. we'll go back to it. the waves coming ashore in japan, washed huge fishing boats up and on to overpasses. you can see entire parking lots of cars. farm fields overrun by a wave of debris and mud. it is extraordinary. >> just beginning to calculate the damage.ordinary. that's exactly right. 40 dead, current estimates. juju has the latest here. >> i'm told the death toll has risen to 60. and sadly, that number will continue to mount as we continue coverage of the earthquake. the latest we know is there's an iconic tower, called tokyo tower, that's been bent. and we're talking about 4 million buildings in and around tokyo, without power. no phone service. no subway service. the sendai airport, which is closest to the epicenter, has a debris field of cars and trucks. they don't know even when it's going to be reopened.
we're talking about massive damage. 1 ship carrying about 100 passengers, reportedly, has been swept away by the tsunami. hundreds of buildings are on fire because gas lines have been ruptur ruptured. massive debris fields throughout the country. >> and tokyo's narita airport has been closed. and flights have been diverted to one of the military -- the u.s. military bases in japan. there's a lot of americans in japan. we have 38,000 military. 43,000. and so far, all those stationed in japan are reported okay. >> and there's nuclear facilities across tokyo. they've shut down most of them. there's no reports of leakage of radioactive material. but right now, the prime minister has declared a state of emergency at all of the nuclear facilities. >> that's right. we're going to randy castle, who works for an i.t. company in boston, massachusetts.
randy, you were there hen the earthquake hit. tell me what it felt like. >> there was a lot of shaking. it lasted at least five minutes. lots of shaking. and very scary. >> where were you exactly? >> the 11th floor, just down the street from the tokyo tower. right in the middle of it all. >> did you see what juju was just talking about? is the tokyo tower bent? can you see that? >> i could not see it. i'm a little ways away. >> buildings in japan are built to withstand theset ettarthquak. this is an earthquake-sophisticated country. tell me about the swaying when it hit. >> there was a lot of swaying. you could hear the building creeking. as it was going, we were told to get down. you can see the shades shaking
back and worth, about six feet back and forth. >> this is a massive earthquake. 8.9, measured as of now. what was the reaction around you? how did people react when this hit? >> at first, the people i work with, here in tokyo, it was normal for them. and shortly after that, it started to get scary, as it got larger and kept on going. >> so, it built and lasted a long time? >> yes, it did. >> when you look out the window now, randy, what do you see? we have reports of fires and massive power outages. what can you see as you look out the window? >> where i am, i am not seeing any of that. i do have people in the office here with me, that can't get home. the trains are all shut down. the taxis are full. there's going to be people sleeping in their offices tonight because they can't make it home. people 20 miles away from home. >> and what are you going to do?
>> my hotel is only a block away. so, i'll be walking over to my hotel and going to sleep nicely tonight. >> randy, you are one of the few fortunate ones. thank you so much for joining us to describe what that must have been like. as one person i heard say, it was a couple of minutes that felt like an hour. >> it really did. and thank god for the way they build buildings here. i may not be talking to you. >> we're glad you are. randy, thanks so much for joining us. >> yep. >> safe travels home. we want to go to hawaii now. the tsunami would hit there by the end of the hour. we go to the pacific tsunami center. what's going on right now, laura? >> right now, it's a waiting game. we've been getting updates throughout the evening. a little more slower than we were expecting. but folks are trying to take their time, as much time as they possible can, to give out the most accurate warnings possible.
since we got word of the earthquake, about 7:45 hawaii time, it has been just a race here at the pacific tsunami warning center to get the most updated information to folks. they started evacuating people several hours ago. shortly before that, people raced to gas stations and convenient stores before they headed to higher ground. throughout the evening, the predictions have been pretty much spot-on, as far as what they've expected. earlier in the evening, they have certain buoys, markers, between japan and hawaii that give them indicators as to what is potentially coming our way. wake island, a tiny island in the pacific ocean, and midway island, all of the indicators respond. about a foot and a half, midway. now, they're saying, throughout the evening, six to seven feet
of what they're calling a potentially damaging tsunami wave hitting our coast area. >> a six-foot or seven-foot wall that could hit hawaii. what's the latest on when you expect it to hit? is there a good estimate now? >> they're predicting about the same time. just shortly after 3:00 a.m. here on the islands, which is a little more than three minutes away. it's not long. and the midway island, which they got the last predictions from, pretty much the last one they're going to get. the shoals area close to the island is the last indicator. at that point in time, it would be too close to do any sort of a warning. they're standing with their predictions that we could potentially be seeing some time soon here, some damaging waves. >> when was the last time you went through a warning like this? >> actually, it was a little over a year ago, after the chilean earthquake, they set up tsunami warnings.
we had massive evacuations here. just about everything we went through, it amounted to just about nothing. there was criticism at the pacific tsunami warning system here. they say they learned from that. they say their models are a little better than they were back then. so, they're hoping that their predictions -- well, maybe not hoping the predictions are correct. that would be a difficult situation here. but they're trying their best to give people the most accurate information they can to keep everybody safe. >> and the people you were able to check in with overnight, about 40 minutes from hitting in hawaii, how would you describe how people are handling this? >> i think initially people were a little hesitant. but it didn't take long after the first sirens started to blast several hours ago, that people realized, you know what? we're on an island. we need to take this seriously. and boy. heading out to the pacific tsunami center, just on the drive over, we could see people
packing the gas stations, trying to squeeze in what they could. running into the convenient stores and grabbing as much water as they could. and anything else to possibly bide the time. they might be further away from home for quite some time. >> lara, stand by. want to check in with you in a little bit. right now, want to go to sam at the smart screen. >> we're going to talk about the area and the buoys that monitor this. these waves don't travel -- they don't look like waves. the energy travels under the ocean. how would you know where they're going unless we had the buoy system to monitor them? the ring of fire. about 90% of earthquakes happen here. chile, indonesia, and japan now. they send ripples of waves across the pacific. the buoys, there's 40 of them that monitor around the area. there's one by hawaii. four or five on the west coast. what the buoys do is monitor the ocean floor. as a wave or the energy comes down across the ocean floor, it triggers a sensor here, which
sends a signal to a satellite. the satellite pops it to the satellite in space. and gives the information back to the reporting centers. there's quite a few of them across the country, so everybody knows the size of this. the amount of energy that moves through under water. and they know what's happening. there was a six-foot rise near the island of guam. very little damage on the island's beaches, we're hearing right there. a quick look at the warnings out right now. we're talking 3:00 to 4:00 a.m., pacific time. not too far away for hawaii. as the waves travel, they're very large. they're very broad. it's not like a wave that would crash on the beach. it would wrap around the islands. that's why every coastal area is in threat here in hawaii, to see what what might be a six-foot or more lift. they don't know until it passes the buoys. it's not just into hawaii. but in california, as well, and the oregon border, as well. our big headline weather across the u.s., continues to be the flooding and the heavy rain that's pulling away this morning.
two inches of rain or expecting two to three inches of rain in that region. and flooding was a real problem for this week. here are the flood watches and warnings out. a quick look at the national map shows more rain and sn all of america's weather coming up again in the next half hour. >> sam, thanks.s weather coming president obama was alerted to the earthquake at 4:00 this morning. world financial markets are reeling. we'll have an update coming right back. [ female announcer ] we asked coffee lovers to come and try coffee-mate's new cafe collection flavors. then we asked them to show us how the taste inspired them. ♪ express yourself
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financial markets are responding to this devastating earthquake in japan. 20 countries now under tsunami warning. jake tapper is joining us from the white house. bianna golodryga, here in new york. and jake, let me begin with you. the president was woken up at 4:00 a.m. by bill daley. he has offered condolences for the people of japan. and put the federal emergency on alert for the potential of the tsunami hitting our west coast. >> reporter: that's right. offering to help, the japanese people whatever they need. and two, bracing for whatever the effects of the tsunami will be here in the united states and the west coast, of course. and then, of course, the northern merianas islands. the u.s. is sending maritime surveillance aircraft, to let them know what they see in the wreckage. and then, of course, the u.s.
state department has alerted reporters that the embassy in japan has moved its command center from its headquarters -- from its embassy in tokyo, to another location because of the aftershocks. >> they also issued a travel alert. you can't get into japan anyway because the airports are closed. the military, so far, believes that all u.s. facilities and personnel are accounted for and safe? >> reporter: that's right. as of now, they have no reports of any facilities or ships or personnel adversely affected in any serious way because of the earthquake or the tsunami. in hawaii, the pacific fleet has announced its precaution for the joint base will be closed. and in pearl harbor itself, the decision has been made for the fleet to remain there. they are anticipating waves of about 3 1/2 feet. they're going to try to ride this out, george. >> and in the meantime, as we wait for the tsunami, if it does hit hawaii and the west coast of the united states, the effects
of that, the markets are already reacting, bianna. we have futures way down in asia and down in europe, as well. >> reporter: that's right, elizabeth. the rule of thumb, the markets hate uncertainty. and the market is selling off, because traders tend to react first and digest later. this is coming off of the fall we saw on the dow yesterday. this is in response to the crisis in the middle east. now, two, potential roadblocks in the way of slow and fragile economic recovery. >> and how soon might it take for the markets to regain their footing, confidence-wise? >> reporter: you have to look at the markets opening lower because of a day of rage and protests in saudi arabia. oil markets are a big concern. and what's going on in japan. the world's third-largest economy, keep in mind, behind the u.s. and china. we'll be right back. [ sneezing ]
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we've been on the phone this morning and talking to people via satellite who experienced the earthquake. the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in japan this morning. it hit at 2:46 p.m. in the afternoon. it was a beautiful, sunny, afternoon by all accounts. this is what it looked and sounded like. >> oh. oh, my god.
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now mayor lean's most powerful doppler radar and the forecast certified most accurate by by weatherate. good morning. minutes before 8 andments away from the 8:07 expected time for the tsunami to reach the hawaiian island. we will have good morning, america back with live coverage. in towson throwing the cloud out but clouds will filter back in. here's the view from the u.s. naval academy. and we are trying to thin out thirst wave of clouds. but cool air is going to hang on tight. we are down to 41 in annapolis
and arnold. 42 in edgemere. there's the rain pushing to the northeast. snow on the backside hits garrett county and we are in the transition zone and as the cool air part of the storm filters in if you see early sun, cloud will fight their way back. mostly cloudy skies a few showers with snowflakes mixed in this afternoon. even after we hit a high of 52. we will slide off with the wind picking up in the afternoon. and toward the evening hours. tonight a very chilly 32. and we start off the weekend on a bright note with high temperatures back to 60. here's kim with traffic. >> reporter: justin, right now we are problem free and no accidents reported around 695 on the baltimore beltway. 95 look good through harford baltimore and howard counties. we are looking live at 95 at 495. a lot of viewers drive towards the dc area for work. we are dealing with a serious backup because of an accident. 95 southbound at route 1 near colt egg park causing major
delays. 59 backed up through beltsville and laurel. the bw parkway is a better alternate. one accident to let you know about look at the maximum. harford road at putty hill road. flooding blocking the roadways at north point and old battle grove road. we will have another weather and traffic update coming back in just a few moments. now back to new york for "good morning america." úcú;ckca/
[ speaking foreign language ] news coverage continues on the devastating earthquake. these are pictures from tokyo as the earthquake hit. a massive 8.9 earthquake. the largest in japan's history. the largest earthquake in the world since the indian ocean earthquake in 2004. >> that earthquake, of course, killed 230,000 people in 14 different countries. we don't know yet how many people may be impacted by this earthquake. but the death toll has been rising throughout the morning.
we had 19 aftershocks. and a tsunami that's hit japan. and there's warnings across 20 countries, including the entire west coast of the united states and hawaii, where we expect a tsunami possibly to hit that state within the next -- within minutes. >> as you said, it's been hitting all of the buoys across the pacific, as it heads towards hawaii. it could hit hawaii within minutes. as you say, there's been sirens going off there all night long. people evacuating the coast. tens of thousands evacuating in hawaii. >> people are overwhelmed as they try to fill the gas tank, get emergency fsupplies and go o higher ground. they are taking it very seriously. people have spent most of the night preparing. >> we don't know how the tsunami will hit. they're very unpredictable. some of the tsunami in japan was
13 feet. we want to go to juju chang with more. >> we want to show some of the snapshots coming in, showing the power of the wave that's hitting the shores of japan. look at this. you can see the massive wall of water coming ashore. barreling, engulfing towns. and the debris field is scattered throughout the country. another thing i want to show you is of sendai airport. planes looking like toys. these transportation systems are completely shut down. let me give you a sense of what happened in japan. >> okay. we're going to go to hawaii now. we have live pictures from honolulu right now. we have brian shiro at the pacific tsunami warning center. those are the pictures coming in from honolulu as they await the tsunami. brian, what's the latest? brian? can you hear me?
it's george stephanopoulos here in new york. what's the latest you have on the tsunami and when it's expected to hit in hawaii. >> hi. good morning. the tsunami is expected to hit in hawaii any minute now. it will be arriving at kauai first and then sweeping across the state. we're looking closely at the gauges to see what happens to get a better sense of what this tsunami is going to do. >> you say you're looking closely at the gauges. what are you seeing exactly? >> it hasn't reached the gauges just yet. it will be here any minute now. in a few minutes we'll have more information for you. what we were seeing at midway island, a couple of hours from now, was five feet, which is a large tsunami for a small island. we're expecting the worst of our forecast to be true for hawaii, which would be about six feet in some places. >> six feet, if it hits hawaii. generally, i know these are very unpredictable, as the tsunami goes by the buoys at very high speed. sometimes up to 500 miles an hour. does it shift course?
does it shift in strength? what can you gauge by the fact it hits five feet in midway? >> that's right. a tsunami can refract, reflect, and bend, the way any wave can. all of the topography features in the ocean. when it passes midway, and still is that large, that means the tsunami is big, without having to run up on a large island like hawaii. that makes us think it will be rather sizable here. >> and six feet. can you give any sense of what kind of damage a six-foot wave would cause? >> well, as anybody with a boat here knows, it can devastate boats in harbors. it can knock them around. hit each other. that's why everyone who has a boat has gone out to sea. it can wash out the beaches and into low-lying homes along the coast. so, the first floor of most homes right at the coast, are at
risk of being flooded, as well. >> okay, brian. thank you. please stand by. we want to check back in with you as the tsunami hits. right now, we want to go to a tourist who was evacuated from a hotel. there's as many as 100,000 tourists in honolulu at any time. steven finley is at the honolulu airport. steven, you were evacuated from your hotel? >> yep. there were warnings on the television and sirens going on the radio. and they said ask the front desk or go to a website. when we asked the front desk, they told us to get in our cars and head towards -- >> head where? >> the west airport. it's high from the ground and away from the coast. they said that was the safe ground. >> how many people are in the airport with you? >> i'd say there's probably about 300 people around the -- in the airport. and there's another hundred cars. people are in their cars and sleeping in their cars and
around their cars. >> sounds like a packed and chaotic scene. >> it's something i've never been a part of before. ever since we started hearing the sirens. we'll be happy to hear when we're finally told that everything is safe. >> so, you're going to stay there until you get the all-clear? >> yeah, basically. wait here until we get information. there's some security guards and police -- you can see the flashing lights at the end of the road. police are blocking people from entering -- preventing people from coming into the airport. >> blocking people from coming in. are they blocking people from leaving, as well? >> i'm sorry? >> are they blocking people from leaving, as well? keeping people inside? >> i believe so. i didn't see anybody try to leave. i'm sure they're controlling the in-and-out traffic. >> did anybody tell you when this might be over for you? >> from the warnings before,
they were saying we would probably be here until a minimum of 5:00 a.m. and then, we would probably hear word. that would be my minimum time that i think i'll end up being here for. >> all right. steven finley. i can hear the kids crying in the background. >> yeah. >> you can't blame those kids, can you? >> you sure can't. we'll check back with you in a bit. want to go back to the situation in japan. more breaking news coming out of japan. it turns out japan is issuing evacuation orders to thousands of residents who live here a nuclear power plant. want to bring in dr. michio kaku. they say no radiation has leaked yet. now, this evacuation order. >> we have to take this seriously. every power plant has two layers of defense. first, the brakes. you put in the control rod. it stops the chain reaction.
second, you dump cold water on it. that's the cooling system. that, apparently, has malfunctioned. that's causing the concern. the accident of just dumping water on this runaway reactor, it seems to be malfunctioning, according to japanese television. >> but they're built to withstand powerful earthquakes. >> they are. but the atomic energy in vienna is concerned, saying there's no cause for panic. but they're concerned about the situation in this reactor. most of the reactors have shut down properly. the brakes were applied. everything seems to work. but one plant is causing concern because of malfunctioning of the emergency cooling system. >> if the emergency cooling system isn't working, take us through the range of possibilities of what might be happening inside that reactor. >> well, we grade accidents on a scale of one to nine. a class one accident, is spill radioactive water on the floor. a worker makes a mistake. and radioactive steam goes into
the atmosphere. class nine is chernobyl. class nine is three mild island, where the backup systems, the emergency systems fail. and the core heats up to a temperature. and the core begins to disintegrate or explode with a steam explosion. nobody is saying we're going to class nine. but what's cause for concern is these accidents are not supposed to happen at all. we're not supposed to use the emergency core cooling system. >> even in the event of like an earthquake? >> nuclear power plants are built to withstand earthquakes. we put them in a computer model. we jostle them around and see if any pipes break. >> how big of an earthquake, though? >> usually a 7. but this is an 8.9. this earthquake is one of the biggest in world history. and it is certainly the biggest in japanese history. it's an earthquake that's probably design basis of the reactor itself. so, that's cause for concern. and that's why it's a
precautionary measure they're advocating evacuating. it does not mean we have a runaway accident. but it's cause for concern because this is not supposed to happen. >> and you also said this is one of the largest earthquakes in world history. given that, what should we be expecting about the aftershocks in the days and weeks ahead? >> we're going to be expecting one, two, three punches in the coming hours and the coming days. that's just the way earthquakes roll out. and remember, even the earth's axis itself is going to shift slightly. the day will be shortened by perhaps a microsecond. and you have to go to earthquakes like what happened in chile, to find earthquakes that are 8.9, 9.1, 9.2. >> it has to tell you something that you have an earthquake in japan that's likely to create a tsunami in los angeles. >> that's the energy we're talking about. the crust of the earth shifting, creating a wave thousands of miles long, traveling at the speed of a jetliner.
you can imagine the energy of that wave. if you're in the pacific, on an ocean cruise, you see almost nothing. a little wave, like a foot high, comes by your ship. but by the time it hits hawaii or los angeles, the bottom of the wave slows down. the top of the wave keeps on going. and then, the surge begins. then, the small, little ripple, starts to increase in size to a monster. >> doctor, as you said earlier, the tsunami waves can move at the speed of a jetliner. 500 to 700 miles per hour. they're watching closely in hawaii, when they expect a wave to hit some time in this half hour. they're watching up and down the west coast of the united states. bill weir is on the santa monica pier, where warnings have been issued, as well. what do you see when you look out, as dr. kaku, described as a pond. >> reporter: it is. it's placid right now. there's no indication of what's happening just over the horizon.
sunrise is still a few hours -- about an hour away. they say the waves aren't expected to hit santa monica until about 8:30 local time. that's three hours from now. but officials are saying they don't expect any damage in southern california. the concerns go up the further north you go, up towards the oregon border. they're making reverse 911 calls. there's an abundance of caution down here, as well. orange county beaches and piers, closed. malibu beach closed, probably to keep thrill-seeking surfers out of the water. the bragging rights to say i surfed the tsunami. you see the appeal it might have for young folks. this is a nice wake-up call for southern californians. the 72-degree days, the blue bird skies lulls you out of the threat that's always here in this earthquake zone. and when you look at the fact that tokyo, the japanese, lead the world in earthquake-safe
construction, i think that's bared out -- bore out by some of the pictures you're seeing. if anything, southern californians will be waking up this morning, checking their earthquake preparedness kits, thinking about the zoning laws a little harder. >> we look at the waves tossing ships around, like small toys. you talk about the fact that southern california, while on alert, is not as worried about the impact, as perhaps, even northern california. i know in san francisco, which extends further west than southern california, they're also watching very, very carefully. >> reporter: absolutely. and a lot of it depends on coastal development, as well. there's a lot of pockets in southern california, where houses are on hillsides, which is not great in a mudslide. they have different layers of
different forms of pestilence out here. but northern california is the area of concern. the a.p. is reporting that the waves are hitting hawaii right now. the tsunami waves are hitting hawaii. let's go to sam at the smart screen. >> we've been getting reports from the national buoy data center, there has been activity. we showed you how the monitors in the buoys go. they sensed some little ripples in the water here, through one of the buoys. it sent the signal to the satellite, to the data center. we'll briefly show you the region we're talking about now. now, we have a wave that's around the hawaii island area there. these waves can wrap that island really, really quickly. what they're concerned about is that -- and, max, would you advance that for me? it's not advancing from this button. okay. we'll start with california. the concern here is that all of that will wash into the coastal areas and really be an issue for it. let me get all the way through the sequence. sorry, we have them stacked up
in the computer locked up on me. the first island to be wrapped right here. as it hits here, it will continue. waves are hitting here, all the way across the first island. then, it will travel across all the other islands. it will get to the big island. and then, shoot out and go towards the california coastline. that's the timing that we're so concerned about in some of the areas. northern california. and getting into the bay areas. the difference in the wave would be, depending on the height of the ocean floor, how high that ocean wave will be when it hits the coastline. that energy travels on the base of the ocean and jumps up when it gets close to the coastline. here's a quick look at what's going on in the northeast this morning. boston will dry out in the next couple of days. that's good news for them with the flooding. even though the skies dry out, the rivers will continue to rise. that means we'll h
so, just a recap. not only buoys, but also reports that the waves wrapping around the islands of hawaii right now, starting out with kauai. george? elizabeth? let's get to pictures of what we're seeing in hawaii. as the waves start to hit. it doesn't look all that ii. powerful right now. let's bring in michio kaku. you could have six-foot waves hitting the island. what kind of damage can those kinds of waves do? >> it depends on how far the
waves go. you see the dramatic photographs of parking lots being swept aside. cars looking like toy things being swept aside. it went almost a mild inland. here in hawaii, it will be a lot less because in the united states, we're so far away from japan. but realize, that waves go across the pond, or the pacific, almost unattenuated. the energy is less intact. instead of being 30 feet tall, it will be 6 feet tall. it depends how far inland it goes. >> you have someone on a beach in hawaii? >> we have jeff perch, at a hotel on the beach in hawaii. jeff, can you see the waves? can you see what's happening? >> i can see the ocean. i can see a couple of the waves coming in. but there hasn't been any activity yet. >> how do they look to you? do you have any idea how big they might be? >> nothing out of the ordinary right now.
>> and your hotel was not evacuated? >> we had the option. the staff here moved everybody from floors one, two, and three out. and everyone is between four and eight now. so, the guests are more comfortable with that. you had an option to take a bus to a higher level. >> what made you decide to stay? >> initially, we packed up a couple of things and headed down to the lobby. and once we talked to the staff, and they gave us new information and said that the waves would probably be about six to eight feet, and that they weren't evacuating the entire hotel, that they were just going to move the first three floors, we sat in the lobby about 20 minutes, contemplating. and then, decided to stay. >> and what kind of precautions are the hotel taking? are they strapping down furniture on the ground floor? >> no.
nothing looks different than what it did this afternoon. >> it sounds relaxed. >> it is. everything is pretty mellow. the staff is mellow. i mean, it's almost as if nothing's happening. and we're all on our balconies waiting to see what's going to happen. >> jeff, let's hope it stays that way. it would be great. we'll check back in with you later, once we get more information on the size of these waves. and hopefully, they do remain quite small. we'll be right back. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 absolutely, i mean, these financial services companies tdd# 1-800-345-2550 are still talking about retirement tdd# 1-800-345-2550 like it's some kind of dream. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 it's either this magic number i'm supposed to reach, or... tdd# 1-800-345-2550 it's beach homes or it's starting a vineyard. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 come on ! tdd# 1-800-345-2550 just help me figure it out tdd# 1-800-345-2550 in a practical, let's-make- this-happen kind of way. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 a vineyard ? schwab real life retirement services is personalized, tdd# 1-800-345-2550 practical help that's focused on making your retirement real. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 open an account today and talk to chuck tdd# 1-800-345-2550 about setting up your one-on-one consultation. tdd# 1-800-345-2550
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we are back with our continuing coverage of the devastating earthquake in japan. tsunami warnings across the pacific right now. associated press has reported that waves are starting to slam hawaii. we have randy brandt, on oahu. you're at diamond head. can you see anything, randy, like that? >> i can see the ocean right now. and it's normal as any other day. >> completely placid? >> completely placid. it is 3:00 in the morning. i can tell nothing is happening yet. >> tell us what it was like when the warnings came in last night.
>> they came in around 9:30. and immediately, people got to action. they had the same situation just a year ago, on march 6th. and many residents who live in the coastal areas started packing up. they cleared out everyone in the inundation zone, which is a few blocks from the ocean. he tells sent everyone to at least the sixth floor. lines at gas stations grew immediately. and many schools and government offices have been closed for friday, which is in a few hours normal work time. >> as you say, right now, you are not seeing anything out of the normal in oahu and diamondhead. no signs of a tsunami yet, at least where you're standing. randy brantd. thanks very much. [ robin ] my name is robin.
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high of 52. temperatures will actually start to cool down with the strong gusty winds swinging in the direction and we will drop to 32 tonight and weekend starting off fine. we are aiming for 60 tomorrow ants shamrock 5k run on sunday. temperatures in the mid-50s. here kim with traffic. >> reporter: around the baltimore melt row, we don't have any accidents to report right now. looking live here at beltway 695 at liberty road, both loops moving very well. you could find minor volume delays around the area. but for the most part, traffic is off to a good start. and no major problems around the area. however you will find flooding reported on some of the side streets. we have a couple problems. one in carroll county route 97 closed in both directions at hoodsville road because of fire activity. expect to see police on the scene providing a detour. and if you driving towards the capital beltway, major delays because of an accident southbound 95 at the 495 split. blocking the far left lanes getting onto 495 eastbound. looking at 30 minute delays
good morning. and welcome back to our breaking news coverage of the tsunami in the pacific. you're looking at live pictures from waikiki beach right now. and just in the last couple of minutes, the wave activity has started to pick up there just a bit. the pacific tsunami center had suspected that the tsunami would hit hawaii at this hour. it doesn't look devastating right now. >> it doesn't. >> but the activity is picking up.it doesn't. >> we have been talking to experts, that explains that is a dynamic situation. the tsunami waves are unpredictab unpredictable. we don't know when they will hit or how big they will be or how
many there will be. but you can see water levels rising on waikiki beach. the alert went out at 10:00 last night. hundreds of people have been evacuated, moved to higher ground. we have spoken to tourists who were moved to an airport, hundreds of them jammed into this airport, waiting out the night. we've been speaking to our expert, dr. michio kaku here. you did see over the last couple of minutes, the activity kick up. >> that's right. it's the calm before the storm. realize, that he with have a massive set of sensors, buoys all over the pacific, the most advanced in the world. so, when they say it will be three to six feet, you have to believe them because they have experience with this. they're old hands with tsunamis in hawaii. >> we're not seeing that right now, correct? >> not seeing it right now. but some of the buoys have registered the fact that, yes, the wave is coming. >> we were talking about that in the last half hour. one of the buoys was in midway.
and the waves were five feet tall. you believe that's a near-certain predictor? >> near-certain predictor because we have seen this before. in the indian ocean they didn't have that system. that's why 250,000 people perished in the indian ocean area in 2004. here, we're prepared. when they say three to six feet, you have to take it seriously. >> dr. kaku, thanks very much. let's go back to the devastation in japan. 8.9 earthquake. that's the largest one in their history. >> that's what's triggered the tsunami warnings in 20 countries. there's been 19 aftershocks. many of them measuring over 6.0. buildings were swaying 30 minutes after the earthquake stopped. you see this tsunami wave recorded just off the coast of japan. juju chang has all of the headlines. what's the death count? when we spoke to you last, it was at 60. but rising almost every time we check in with you. >> it is. right now, the death toll stands
at 60. there's dozens of people unaccounted for. you can imagine the energy being unleashed. we have fires all over japan, mostly because of ruptured gas lines. airports are shut down. this is an oil refinery, as you can imagine. the uncontained fires are spontaneously erupting over japan. the bullet trains are shut down. 10 million japanese rely on public transportation. there are people scrambling and trying to get to safety. 4 million buildings are without power in japan. we should note it is that electrical outage that is triggering the problems at the nuclear facilities. what happens is they revert to backup energy. there was a backup failure in the backup system. thousands of people are being evacuated around one nuclear power plant. this is an ongoing -- you see the devastation from the debris field unleashed by the tsunami as it comes ashore. >> we were looking at the images
at the airport in northern japan. the runway littered with airplanes and cars looking like toys because they were tossed around and jumbled together. >> and the 23-foot wave came in as much as a mile inland. and swept back out with owl of that debris. let's check in with abc's akiko fujita who is in japan. what is going on right now? >> we have amazing images. we just got word from our partner out here, public broadcaster, nhk, saying that 90 people, 90 people dead. the death toll up to 90. they're also reporting five dozen people missing. but the numbers sure to rise. it's 10:35 at night here. you can imagine, once the crews go out, once day breaks and goes out to reassess the damage, the numbers are expected to rise. the big concern right now is the
nuclear power plant, which is in the city about 15 miles south of miyagi prefecture where the earthquake was. and in the cities surrounding tokyo, part of that 25,000 people, stuck at train stations. you can imagine there are millions of people that rely on that transportation system. you know, we are hours away from the epicenter. but the city of tokyo, surrounding area, just kind of in shock right now. >> akiko, were you able to get out at all since the earthquake? walk around and get a sense of how people are handling all this? what the mood is like in the city? >> we are kind of tied down to this area. we're on the seventh floor of the nhk building. but we have been following all of the images. you know, you can just imagine.
this is a country that is used to earthquake. the fact that people were running out of buildings and seeing some of the smoke coming out, the fires, is really speaks to the magnitude of the quake we experienced. >> and can you describe what it felt like to you when it happened? >> yeah. i was actually in the bureaus here. and like everybody else, i felt the shaking and thought, it's another quake. we get so many out here. then, it got stronger and stronger. and we got a bunch of tapes out here on the shelf. they started flying off the shelves. and i knew i had to get under the desk. it lasted quite a long time. we've gotten several aftershocks. the official report is that it's 19. but i can tell you it felt like a lot more than that. they have gotten -- >> we had reports -- there was one report we had only from a single source, that a ship with 100 people onboard was swept away in a tsunami wave.
we're getting reports there may be hundreds, 300 bodies floating in waters offshore. have you heard anything about this? >> we have not confirmed that individually. but we are getting those reports from the japanese media, as well. >> akiko, if you have something, bring it to us. we want to go to bill weir on the santa monica pier in california. we were looking at the pictures coming out of hawaii. so far, the waves kicking up just a little bit, as the tsunami is expected. you're a couple of hours away from when it's supposed to hit in santa monica. seeing anything at all yet? >> reporter: no. nothing here. you wouldn't know anything was going on if you didn't -- if you weren't able to watch tv or hear the radio. they expect whatever waves do arrive here in southern california, about three hours away. and officials have said they do not expect them to cause any damage. so, if they're three to six in hawaii, you can have that and take it down incrementally.
but out of abundance of caution, orange county is closing its beaches and piers. malibu pier will be closed. but los angeles county has issued no such beach closure edict as of right now. and it seems like it seems to be diminishing as the time goes by. but it's enough to make any southern californian, any californian, worry. in fact, concerns seem to intensify the further north you go. we're hearing reports up there where there are reverse 911 calls. letting folks in low-lying areas to get out, just to be sure. and it goes back -- if you go back, i remember the '94 northridge quake, which was devastating here in southern california. and the bay area quakes in the late '80s, as well. this did enough that you get a false sense of security here. but anybody who lives in this area has been through a tumble or two and knows how powerless you feel in those settings. that, probably, will be on the
minds of most southern californians as they wake up. dawn is breaking here, more so, than a threat of tsunami waves. >> expecting a normal commute and normal work day in l.a. now, to sam with the weather. >> you won't see action in the water before that hit time or the hit time because the wave is crossing across the ocean at a specific ocean. if you do a canon ball into the pool, you get a splash on the other side of the pool. but initially, you lose some of the size of that wave as it travels across. that's exactly what's going on with the pacific ocean right now. and the tsunami situation will come in stacks of waves. and it won't look like a giant wave on the water. it will be a lifting of the ocean up towards the coastline. you may see the draftback, the drawback, on the ocean floor before the wave hits. you may have seconds before the wave comes at you or the lifting of the ocean floor does. we have reports on the western
end of hawaii as the waves come in. the first reports are there already. we'll know more about the size of it there, as we're able to measure it on different islands. it's going to be different sizes of waves on different islands, based on the shape of the ocean floor. also, remember, this energy travels on the base of the ocean and then lifts up, as the ocean floor lifts up and hits the coastline. here's the deal on california. we already have warnings and warning sirens going on in the oregon coastline and the california coastline. the warnings are not until 9:00 pacific standard time. you might see the waves move in, depending on the shape they take once they pass the hawaiian islands. that depends on how much action you get. if all that action has to squeeze into a bay, you're going to get some problems in that bay in a larger wave in that bay than you would on the surrounding coastline. back to the northeast, one or two inches of rain in that area. some cases four. it's caused disastrous flooding and will for the weekend.
you are looking at live pictures of waikiki beach in hawaii. the water starting to rise a little bit. this is the time the tsunami was expected to hit hawaii. the waters are rising. it's not violent yet.i. we want to get to jerome rogers. he's on the phone from waikiki beach. what's it been like the last few minutes, jerome? >> the water is moving in. it's too dark to see too much. but the water is moving inland. it looks calm.
>> it's calm. but you're feeling the water come up off the beach and seeing it? >> well, i'm about 150 yards from the beach. and i can see the water coming closer on land. but it's hard to see because it's dark in the morning. >> what's this night been like for you? >> it's nice over here. very nice. we are having a great time. and right now, we're restricted to the hotel room because we are what we call a critical evacuation, you know, as far as moving up to the higher level of the hotel. >> i hear the virginia accent in your voice. you're from hampton, virginia. so far, it hasn't ruined your vacation? >> no, it's not. we're having a great time. i'm looking forward to this episode being over and getting back to enjoying myself. >> thank you very much for checking in with us. we're getting another report from pearl harbor, there was about a foot and a half surge
this morning. >> it's important that we talk about with all of the devastation that happened in japan, that tsunami was 13 to 30 feet high. we're not talking several stories here. in other words, a lot of damage can come from just 6, 10, 15 feet of water. >> as we've been hearing all morning from the experts, these waves are unpredictable. it looks calm right now. you can't sound the all-clear yet. >> we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] verizon believes
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you're looking at pictures of a whirlpool off the northern coast of japan, being formed right now. we want to talk to dr. michio kaku, about that. but as we feared, the death toll of the devastating earthquake is rising in japan. >> we knew it would. we're hearing reports that there are 200 to 300 bodies off the northeast coast of japan, where
the quake was centered. in addition, we have reports of a ship, with 100 people, that was swept away in the tsunami wave. reports in the city of tokyo and further north, of possibly 60 deaths. we're talking a death count in the several hundreds as the reports come in. in addition, george, we're hearing reports this morning, there's been an evacuation of thousands of people near a nuclear plant. japanese officials say the coolant system isn't working correctly. there is no leak. our martha raddatz is reporting her sources are telling her, japanese officials are very concerned about this. they are presenting a calm face to the public. but they're very concerned about this. >> that's right. they issued a state of emergency in japan, but they say just for precautionary reasons. but u.s. officials are telling martha raddatz they're very concerned about this. let's go back to the pictures of the whirlpool and dr. michio kaku. >> that's giant. >> what exactly are we looking at? what is a whirlpool? >> you realize when you have a sudden uplift of the earth's
crust, the uplift could be hundreds of miles long, creating not just one wave, but several waves, that first of all, can collide. and when waves collide, they create eddy currents or whirlpools. second of all, you have the crack in the earth's crust itself. water can descend into it, like a drain, also causing a whirlpool or an eddy current. you have to realize the size of this thing. this is not a pinpoint. this is a rupture in the crust of the earth, hundreds of miles long, creating this gigantic wall of water. >> anything in that vortex could be in danger. >> that's right. if you're a cruise ship, you have to watch out. this is beyond your control now. >> how often does it happen after an earthquake? >> it happens often. there are several walls of water. they collide. you have cracks in the earth's crust. this is not a clean fissure in an earthquake. >> how long could it last?
>> this could last for hours. >> you told us all morning that aftershocks could continue for hours and days. you said earlier, this is one of the worst earthquakes ever in the world. and clearly, the strongest in japan. >> right. you have to go back to 1898, for a similar earthquake, a smaller one. 30,000 people tied in that tsunami in 1898, in japan. >> but the japanese know how to prepare for an earthquake. >> they learned their lesson. in 1923, tokyo was flattened. just like san francisco was flattened in 1906. building codes are the most stringent in japan. in the kobe earthquake, we had thousands of people die. in a situation where we have building codes that are highly enforced, you still get that. we're getting a report, now, that there's a passenger train just on the coast of japan that's been reported missing. it was in the part of japan where the tsunami hit. obviously, this would increase the death toll dramatically.
don't know how many people were onboard. but the tsunami that size, could easily sweep away an entire train? >> that's right. and the death toll is going to rise as the hours go by and as more reports come in from different parts of the country. realize that communications are down. you can't use cell phones. i tried to call. you can't call japan. therefore, we don't really know what's happening in many isolated areas. >> how many new preventive measures were taken just since the indian ocean earthquake in 2004, that might have made a difference here? and might keep the death toll down? >> remember, in the 1960s, in hawaii, they set up one of the most advanced buoy systems throughout the entire pacific. sensors that can register how high the wave is as it comes by. and we put that information into a computer, a supercomputer, that allows us to project what happens when it hits hilo and honolulu. since 2004 and the earthquake in
the indian ocean, people said we have to take this seriously. another big one is bound to hit. >> we're just about out of time. we saw the earthquake a couple of weeks ago in new zealand. is there any way to know if that's connected to what's happening in japan? >> they're both on the ring of fire, this earthquake-prone zone. >> it's hard to tell. but we have the ring of fire, going from the philippines to japan, to alaska, to chil lee. we think that what happens in one sector of the ring doesn't affect other sectors of the ring. but it's hard to say. it's black magic trying to predict the course of earthquakes. >> thank you, dr. kaku. we'll be right back.
that is all for us on "gma" right now. we're going to be back at 11:15 eastern, when president obama addresses the country in a press conference. and we'll have complete coverage of the devastating earthquake and tsunami all day long an abcnews.com. 8.9 earthquake. and a full report tonight on "world news" with diane sawyer.
now maryland's most powerful doppler radar and forecast certified most being a it by weatherate. minutes away from "good morning maryland at nine. we will have extensive live coverage of the sue none namhee and earthquake -- tsunami and earthquake. we are looking at 42 locally in bolt fore. 39 haikerstown with a -- hagerstown. and you've had a few breaks of sun. we have got the cool pocket of the storm swinging through. a few showers will give way to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies. there may be a sprinkle or flurry with the cold air in the afternoon. we will reach a midday early afternoon high of 52. shied back to the 40s and dropping to freeing overnight. a mild and relatively quiet weather weekend. we will talk about that on "good morning maryland" at nine. final check on traffic can kim. >> reporter: whoa made it through the comiewnt commute relatively unscatheed in terms
of accidents. 695, 95 and the 83s moving about very well with no reported incidents or delays. we are looking at 95 southbound live in laurel at route 198. approaching the capital beltway 495 and earlier accident block several lanes and the lanes running close to 25 to 30 minutes as you come south from laurel heading towards the 495. a lot of people bailing out on the bw parkway as an alternate. we have a road closure near the carroll howard county line near woodbine. closed in both directions because of fire activity. route 32 is the best alternate. and flooding reported in lutherville west seminary closed for high water. stay with us." good morning maryland" is coming back starting at nine. úcú;ckca/