State Department issues travel alert for Japan post-earthquake and tsunami.
In the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens, urging them to avoid nonessential travel to Japan at this time.
The earthquake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, hit off the cost of Sendai in northern Japan, about 230 miles north of Tokyo, and triggered a tsunami 30 feet high. It was the largest earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history, and the fifth-largest worldwide since 1900. As of Monday morning, some 3,500 had been reported dead, but the number was expected to climb much higher.
The Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau states that there are currently no reports of significant damage to Tokyo from the earthquake and tsunami. The bureau expresses its thanks to “all the congress organizers, meeting planners, and friends in the industry from around the world who have sent their warm messages of support.”
Several events at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, including the International Auto Aftermarket Expo, March 16–18, have been canceled. The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo continues to operate as usual with some limited services.
The State Department says flights have resumed at all airports that were closed by the earthquake, except Sendai, Sado, Iwate-Hanamaki, and Misawa Airports. In Tokyo, most forms of public transportation, including trains and subways, are operating.
The Japan National Tourism Organization has links to information on the earthquake, transportation, emergency relief efforts, and other information, including a link to the U.S. Embassy in Japan, where there is information on how to contact family and friends in Japan. The Tokyo International Forum convention center has been used as a temporary shelter for those displaced by the earthquake.
In Hawaii, tsunami warnings have been lifted. The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported no major impact to any of the six islands except for an area along the coast in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii Island. Local residents said coastal areas were evacuated and some homes near the shoreline suffered damages.
“It is business as usual across the state. Travelers heading to Hawaii should continue do so with confidence after checking with their airline, as there may be some temporary delays,” bureau officials said.
The effects of the tsunami were felt as far east as the Pacific coast of the U.S., where coastal residents were evacuated. The rough waves caused millions of dollars of damage to areas near the California and Oregon border, according to reports.