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Hundreds Killed in 8.9 Japan Quake: Tsunami Advisory Continues in L.A. [UPDATED]

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A powerful tsunami has claimed hundreds of lives on the northeast coast of Japan following the 8.9 magnitude mega-earthquake which struck at 9:46 p.m. Thursday L.A. time (2:46 p.m. Friday in Tokyo). The epicenter of the earthquake was located 80 miles off the eastern coast of Honshu at a depth of 15 miles triggering a massive tsunami with initial wave heights estimated between 13 and 23 feet, according to the USGS.

Please see our overnight coverage for photos, videos and more details of the initial devastation in Japan and tsunami watches, warnings and advisories for the California coast. This post reads as a liveblog, with the latest information timestamped at the top.

3:30 p.m.

  • Gov. Brown has declared a state of emergency for four coastal counties in far-northern California (Humboldt, Del Norte, San Mateo, Santa Cruz).
  • Crescent City Harbor in Del Norte county is "destroyed," according to the LA Times
  • Japan declares its first-ever emergency at a nuke plant, thousands evacuated but still no radiation leak.
  • Orange County beaches have been reopened with the exception of Huntington and Seal beaches, which are expected to reopen at 4 p.m., according to CNN
  • Local non-profits are mobilizing to support quake and tsunami victims in Japan, reports KPCC
  • Discovery's Science Channel is already planning an in-depth documentary on the earthquake and tsunami. Too soon? Apparently not. "'Anatomy of a Disaster' will depict a race against time, from the first wave to hit Sendai, to acts of incredible heroism still yet to occur," Discovery Channel president Clark Bunting told the Hollywood Reporter
  • Kobe's parents are in Japan but are safe, in fact his dad today agreed to return to LA as an assistant coach for the Sparks of the WNBA.

12:30 p.m.One man may have been swept out to sea after taking pictures of the approaching waves near Crescent City, CA. The AP reports:

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The Coast Guard is searching for a man who was swept out to sea while taking photos of waves with two friends near the mouth of the Klamath River in Del Norte County, Calif. His friends made it back to shore, and helicopters are searching for the missing man.

An L.A. County Search and Rescue team has been deployed to Japan where the death toll from Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami is expected to rise. At least one nuclear reactor "cannot be cooled down" and 3,000 have been evacuated, although reportedly there is no risk of radiation leaking, according to Kyodo News. A cruise ship and bullet train are also missing, reported the Daily Mail.

A tsunami advisory remains in effect for the California Coast south of Point Concepcion (near Santa Barbara). A tsunami warning remains in effect for points north although it appears the most damaging waves have passed.

The latest bulletin from the National Weather service notes wave amplifications around 11 a.m. at between one and three feet between San Diego and Santa Monica.

11:30 a.m.Earthquakes continue to rattle Japan. The latest of dozens of strong aftershocks measured greater than 6 in magnitude. Google has established an online crisis center and people finder for the event.

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Japan has officially requested assistance and the U.S. has ships and aircraft carriers on the way, according to the Obama administration.