Japan Earthquake Forces Airport Closures, Flight Diversions

Updated on 3/12/11 at 10:34 am EST with CCTV footage from Sendai Airport

According to The Wall Street Journal, a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake which struck northeast Japan on Friday is causing major air travel disruptions including airport closures and flight cancellations and diversions.

Map showing location of Sendai Earthquake

Tokyo’s two main airports, Haneda and Narita, were temporarily closed on Friday shortly after the earthquake struck but were re-opened by friday evening.

While the situation is still rapidly changing, The Wall Street Journal estimates that so far, 711 flights have been cancelled and that 23,000 people have been stranded at Tokyo’s two largest airports.

Although Narita and Haneda appear to have spared any signifcant damage as a result of the earthquake, CCTV footage (shown below) at Sendai Airport in Miyagi Prefecture shows that the airport has been almost entirely flooded as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami which has wreaked havoc on the Japanese coast.

The earthquake struck about 230 miles offshore from Tokyo at 2:46 pm local time, triggering a massive tsunami which has put at least 50 countries on alert CNN reports. Current death toll predictions are in the hundreds but with the situation very much in flux, those numbers are expected to climb as officials get a better undertsanding of the extent of the destruction.

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