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Bowling News USA - March 11, 2011 8.9 Earthquake Hits Japan...Storm's Steve Kloempken is Safe...

A magnitude 8.9 earthquake has rattled Japan, causing a 13-foot tsunami that damaged buildings and washed away homes along the northeastern coast, Friday afternoon.

Storm's Steve Kloempken is in Japan conducting seminars and is uninjured. Steve has sent several messages to his FaceBook page an apparently was on the 6th - 8th floor of the bowling center when the quake hit...

Phone service is unavailable.

The quake hit at 2:46 p.m. local time as several powerful aftershocks followed including a 7.4 quake.

It was originally measured at 7.9 by Japan's meteorological agency but was later upgraded to 8.9.

Aftershocks continued to rock the region as images on Japanese television showed cars and boats being swept away by tsunami waters.

"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said during an emergency news conference. "Some of the nuclear power plant in the region have automatically shut down, but there as no leakage of radioactive materials to the environment."

Several areas were submerged in water and the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture was engulfed by flames after a fire broke out.

In Tokyo, building shook and trains were halted during the middle of the workday.

At least 10 fires have been reported in Tokyo and Tokyo Disneyland's parking lot has been flooded.

Japanese officials confirm at least five people are dead.

"This is a very seismically active area off the east coast of japan that has produced a number of large quakes in the past," said Randy Baldwin at the national earthquake center in Golden, Colorado.

According to Fuji TV Network, about 200 people in Sendai, near the epicenter of the quake are stuck in a landslide.

Staff Sgt. David Pearson, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot stationed at Japan's Narita airport said the quake has shut down the airport.

"There have been no planes coming in or going out, he said.

Pearson said it was "absolute panic" when the quake hit.

"I just saw the lockers in the area start violently shaking back and forth. And then judging by the looks on some people's faces I figured out what had happened," he said.

Japan's foreign minister has ordered officials to start preparing to accept foreign assistance and told them to check on the safety of foreigners living here in country according to NHK TV.

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March, 2011