8.9-magnitude earthquake hits coast of Japan, island nations face tsunami warning

Editor's note: For the most recent updates, see blog post Japan quake and tsunami updates + video

Two ways to donate to Japan quake and tsunami relief -- Text '4JAPAN' to '20222' to give a $10 donation. Or donate online.

Update, 11:27 pm PST: World Vision team departs from Tokyo tomorrow with hopes to do relief distributions and set up Child-Friendly Spaces. Staff will be sent to the affected areas to conduct an assessment of the situation in each area and determine the needs of survivors.

Update, 6:12 pm PST: Official warnings indicate that tsunami waves are not expected to bring heavy damage to Latin American and Caribbean countries, given the loss of energy of the tidal wave as it travels across the Pacific Ocean and the geographic position of the countries in the region in relation to the wave's path. World Vision continues to monitor the situation closely.

Donate to help World Vision reach families devastated by the quake and tsunami.

Update, 3:19 pm PST: From our most recent reports from World Vision staff in affected areas:

  • All the major transportation means (e.g. trains and highways) are stopped in major affected cities, people are unable to access any transportation mean to go back home. People are stuck in their offices and at their train stations.
  • Electricity is cut off for about 7,000,000 households.
  • All affected population facing difficulty in telecommunication. People are unable to contact their families and friends.
  • There are still aftershocks.

World Vision staff are working around the clock to get a holistic picture of the damage, and to form an operational response plan.

World Vision is also working closely with authorities in Tokyo, asking what kind of resources we can provide. Read MSNBC article.

Update, 11:42 am PST: World Vision continues to monitor countries across the Asia and Pacific region for tsunami impact. A response in Japan will also be considered once the full picture of damage and immediate needs on the ground are better established. Local media reports more than 300 deaths and many more missing. Regional disaster management staff are on stand-by to support any efforts.

Update, 9:22 am PST: Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs director for World Vision Asia-Pacific reports that all World Vision staff in Japan are safe, initial danger period for Indonesia and Philippines has passed - though they remain on alert. Warnings remain for Papua New Guinea although little damage has been reported. Evacuated people are returning home. World Vision continues to monitor the situation closely.

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit near the northeast coast of Japan today. Pacific Rim countries are bracing for potential tsunamis. World Vision staff members are on high alert, preparing to respond.

Staff on high alert across region, preparing for response

Asian, North American, and South American countries on the Pacific Rim are facing tsunami alerts following a 8.9-magnitude earthquake, reported to have occurred near Japan's east coast today.

"Our offices in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are on alert and staff in coastal areas have been advised," said Geoff Shepherd, World Vision's humanitarian and emergency affairs director for the Asia-Pacific region.

"We've also alerted our Global Rapid Response Team and have put team members on standby for possible deployment to affected areas. This could be a very serious disaster in multiple countries and our staff are prepared to respond."

World Vision

World Vision is particularly concerned about those who would be most vulnerable in the island nations facing tsunami warnings.
We currently have operations in the following countries that may be affected: Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Mexico, New Zealand, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.

World Vision also has responded to disasters in American Samoa in recent years. We responded in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as well as earthquakes last year in Haiti and Chile. Staff are on standby to respond in Japan and in many of the potentially-affected countries. Community development staff in the Philippines are working with local governments to coordinate a possible response in coastal areas.


The quake occurred at 1:46 p.m. local time near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. In Tokyo, reports have already been issued predicting waves as high as 10 meters.


Current reports estimate that tsunamis may strike the Philippines by as early as 5 a.m. EST and may strike Indonesia and other South Pacific islands as early as 6 a.m. EST.  At this point, authorities have not released an estimate of the potential size of the waves.
"In the coastal town of Palanan, where World Vision has an ongoing relief operation, World Vision staff were the first to notify the local government of the impending tsunami," says communications staff member Jay Mijares, based in the Philippines. "Local government officials have now identified evacuation sites for community members."

World Vision staff in the Philippines are monitoring and have pre-positioned supplies prepared for a response if necessary.

Papua New Guinea

Staff members in Papua New Guinea have pre-positioned supplies for 1,000 to 2,000 people. Staff are on alert for a potential response.

General Information

Some media reports indicate that this is the most powerful quake on record in Japan and may be the fifth-largest earthquake reported in the world since 1900.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued tsunami warnings for more than 50 locations, some as far away as the western coasts of Chile and Peru.

Please keep in prayer the children, families, and communities left devastated by this earthquake. Pray that the tsunamis would cause minimal damage, and that people would have ample warning to be out of harm's way. Pray that those who are most vulnerable would be protected.

Help now

or text '4JAPAN' to '20222' to give a $10 donation


    @Jane Collins: Your words are so eloquently put, Jane. Indeed, disasters like these remind us to count our blessings, but also to share them with those in need. We join your prayer. Thanks for being a blessing.
    @Brian Pennington- Thanks for your deep desire to help hands on. Unfortunately, World Vision does not send volunteers overseas. We depend on disaster and relief development experts in these types of situations that require professional planning and implementation. The best way you can partner with World Vision at the moment is through prayer and helping us to spread the word so that others are aware of this disaster. Your desire to help is greatly appreciated.
    @Combs Service- For the same reason as mentioned to Brian above, we do not send volunteers into disaster relief areas. Thank you so much though. We are often blown away by the willingness of companies like yours to lend their time and talents to help. May God bless your business.

    I want to help, 'hands on.' I have years of experience in construction and have a valid passport. I want to do something real! Not just hand out money. Who do I call? I am also an educator. Anything to help I am there. Please email me.

    When tragedy hits one country, it hits and hurts us all for we are all brothers and sisters, no matter where we live and/or who we are. The earthquake in Japan reminds us to be grateful for what we have and to always use our resources to help others and to show God's love for others, for we never know when it can all be taken from us.

    For our brothers and sisters in Japan and surrounding countries and for their friends and relatives in the United States, I pray that you know you are not alone and that you are loved by me and most importantly by God! Stay strong!

    Jane Collins

    I have a small business. We would love to help. I have electricians,Framers,Masonary,etc. We are not finacially capable of the expences. If anyone knows of a web site or contact please e-mail us at combsservicesllc@gmail.com

    Our school has clubs and some of us would like to know in what way could we help out, not just by money donations but also are they in need of clothes or food that we could send to this organization, so you could send it out to the victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami. i hope you write back ASAP!

    @Jazmin Alvarez - It is still too early in the response to know exactly what and how much is needed to help. We do know that World Vision Japan's relief efforts will require donated funds, which is why we've activated fundraising efforts. The best way for you and your school club to get involved right now is by spreading the word so that others know of the disaster. If other ways to get involved besides fundraising become available, I'll be sure to update the World Vision Blog. Blessings to you.

    please continue to support and pray for those survivors in japan and also to pray that there will be more survivors will be found and rescued. this is a crisis that cannot be ignored!

    what can we do - is there a need for comunication experts - rescue video documentation? Or just on location assistance?

    We are willing to sponsor with living arrangements, a long or short term residence situation for a family or up to 8 singles in dire need from Japan. If any need to relocate here to the states due to this disaster we are willing to help in this way. We are an older couple (50's) that have a small mini ranch near with several vintage trailers that can accommodate up to 6 or 8 people.

    Best Regards,

    Ruth &amp; Nathan
    23174 Lariat Lane
    Bend, Oregon 97701

    I am fluent in Japanese, spoken and written, and have thirty years experience in search and rescue and EMT level emergency response (ski patrol). I would like to volunteer to help. I understand well the desire to limit responders to existing members of a response organization (which I am not); however, I think that my language skills along with my training and experience would allow me to help both as an interpreter/liason and a working participant. If you have any suggestions as to how I might volunteer my services, please let me know.

    Jim Sameth

    I am able to sew quilts and would like to be able to send them to Japan. Please let me know if you will be collecting things like that for bundled forwarding. I can also initiate volunteer sewers to make more. Thank you I have a very low income so I can't send money. A pretty quilt for adults and children might be uplifting to their spirits.

    @Joanne Hatch- At this time, World Vision Japan is forming their short-term and long-term relief response in which the World Vision U.S. office will greatly assist in carrying out the plan. At such an early stage in the response, items like food and water are the most needed, so World Vision will focus on those first. Should item donations like blankets be needed in the future, and only if they are requested from the World Vision Japan office, then we will accept these items by the pallet, often from corporate partners. If it the opportunity becomes available for your group to sew some quilts for those in Japan, or in other places around the world, we will update this blog or our website and let you know. Thanks for the generous offer. Your support is a huge blessing to us.

    If there were some way to get a few from Japan to my home in Tennessee they would be welcome here for as long as they need a new home..I just wish I had millions to go after hundreds and put them in a clean safe home..

    Our company has a few pieces of construction equipment,loaders,dozers and backhoes.If there is a way to ship over we might be able to help in the clean up effort.

    Thanks, Brian

    @Brian Thayer- Thanks for the offer, that is super kind of you. I'm passing your information to my colleagues to have on hold should this type of help be needed. Thanks again.
    @Jim Sameth- Typically, World Vision does not send volunteers overseas, especially in a disaster response situation since the complexities of relief work require trained professionals. Thank you for so willingly volunteering your interpretation skills. If I hear that this may be needed, I'll definitely let you know. Blessings.

    I am retired and available to leave immediately (passport in hand) to assist. Minimum pay required while in transit and at site. Excellent health and used to construction work. Can set up temporary structures, water lines, electrical generators, etc.
    Alex Newton
    901-289-5425 (Cell)

    My husband and I are now studying as a missionary after my 14 years of relief and devt works through World Vision in the Philippines. We have been praying for Japan as our missionary field for a year now. By Gods grace, we are available anytime to do relief works doing Staff Care and Child Friendly Space activities.

    Gaudie Micutuan
    mobile # 09129272498

    i would b interested in going to japan to help find locate rebuild

    May God bless those survivors who were left alive for a reason. May they live their precious lives in gratitude and love for life after enduring such a tragedy. May they know that God is with them and may they be guided by the Almighty Spirit the rest of their lives. Amen, Amen, Amen

    How can people who want to physically lend a hand with relief efforts get to where they need to be?

    @Sister-in-spirit: Thanks for your willingness to help. However, we do not encourage nor accept volunteers in disaster relief situations since these types of difficult circumstances really require relief professionals. You might be interested in reading one of our recent posts about disaster relief here: http://blog.worldvision.org/disaster-relief/dos-and-donts-of-supporting-.... Thanks again and may we be in prayer together for those in Japan.

    hello my name is katherine davis,

    i'm sending this email on behalf of Green Castle Baptist Church Missionary Workers in Louisville, Kentucky. We would like to know what we could do to help with the victims in Japan that endured the disaster about a month ago. Please feel free to send ideas and tips on how we can help as much as we possibly can, any way possible.

    I look forward to your response and we are for and with you all as you continue to give strength and support to how friends across seas.

    @Katherine- There's some great resources that will give you some ideas and prayer tips to support those in Japan at http://worldvisionchurches.org/. At this point, one of the best ways your church can help is through prayer. Thanks, Katherine and please extend our gratitude to all of Green Castle Baptist Church and the missionary workers in Louisville. It is an incredible blessing to know we have your support.

    I have had POST EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT training through the City of San Jose, where i worked for 14 years. Our teams &amp; I served the City of Hattiesburg Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. I also worked with the City of Pacifica, CA on Ocean Beach and Cliff Rescues on the Pacific Coast, 15 miles south of San Francisco, CA.

    As a Professional Building Inspector, I have received training and am willing to assist with flood and hurricane damaged buildings/structures damage assessments. I have been a Foursquare Pastor for 20yrs. Also hold Doctorate in Ministry &amp; Masters in Psych. Can help with Post Traumatic Stress and Crisis Counseling.
    Sincerely, Dean Greer, D.Min, MA.

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