Tag Archives: News

Amazing Iceberg Collapse – Caught On Camera

An  arch-shaped iceberg collapsed – and a couple caught the heart-stopping moment on camera!

A Canadian couple were boating in Newfoundland, filming video of the iceberg when they witnessed the massive collapse. It’s fascinating to witness it, until you remember that for every action there’s a potentially lethal icy reaction.  Ahhh!

It’s what happens next that terrified them. In the video you can hear her scream in terror as they suddenly find themselves in danger. In just seven seconds, the vast iceberg suddenly begins to crack, then completely collapses into the water below, causing a huge wave rolling straight towards them.

‘”I think my heart came up, and I swallowed it. I was petrified!” -Wanda Stead

We’ve seen how deadly icebergs can be to even large ships — they were in New Foundland, Canada, which is where the Titanic sank back in 1912. That was due to a collision, but the resulting tidal wave from an iceberg collapse can be just as lethal.

Screenshots of the collapse:

The calm before the storm – cracks begin to form
Iceberg collapse in Newfoundland, Canada
Iceberg collapse – chunks of ice begin to disintegrate

Iceberg collapse in Newfoundland, Canada

Iceberg collapse in Newfoundland, Canada
Immediately after the Iceberg collapse, a huge wave forms and comes towards their tiny boat

Wanda Stead and her husband tell the story in this CBC article. Screenshots from YouTube.

Here are some other epic iceberg collapses:

Global first: Brit visits all 201 states without flying

If you think my goal of traveling to all 50 states and 50 countries by age 50 is impressive, check out this guy.  A British adventurer has become the first person to travel to all 201 sovereign states in the world without flying. It took four years and ended when he arrived in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.

Graham Hughes used buses, boats, taxis, trains, and his own two feet – but never an airplane – to travel 160,000 miles in exactly 1,426 days, spending an average of less than $100 a week.

“I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring,” Hughes said from Juba, South Sudan’s capital. “I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger.”

now that's impressive! This guy visited all 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara (plus the 4 home nations of the United Kingdom)
now that’s impressive! This guy visited all 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara (plus the 4 home nations of the United Kingdom)

Hughes, 33, set out from his home in Liverpool in northern England on New Year’s Day 2009.

Since then, he has visited all 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine,Kosovo, Western Sahara, and the four home nations of the United Kingdom.

GUINNESS CONFIRMED

Guinness World Records have confirmed that Hughes, who has been filming the trip for a documentary and raising money for a charity called Water Aid, is the first person to achieve this feat without flying.

“The main feeling today is just one of intense gratitude to every person around the world who helped me get here, by giving me a lift, letting me stay on their couch, or pointing me in the right direction,” Hughes said Monday. “There were times, sitting in a bus station in Cambodia at one in the morning, riding some awful truck over bad roads, when I thought, why am I doing this? But there was always a reason to keep going.”

Highlights were swimming in a lake of jellyfish in the Pacific archipelago of Palau, watching one of NASA’s last Space Shuttle launches, and dancing with the jungle tribes of Papua New Guinea.

People asked me how I was going to get to Afghanistan or Iraq or North Korea, but they were the easy ones, you don’t even need a visa for Iraq, you just walk across the border from Turkey,” he says.  “The really tough ones were places like Nauru, and the Maldives and the Seychelles, island countries where there were also sometimes pirate threats.

To cross oceans, Hughes hitched lifts with cargo ships. He spent four days in an open fishing canoe from Senegal to Cape Verde, and was then arrested when he arrived.

Later, officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo jailed him for six days believing he was a spy.

“None of this put me off, it just made me more bloody-minded to succeed,” he says.

Reposted from Christian Science Monitor here.

Own a Private Island!

Ever dreamed of owning a private island?  Apparently they’re available for sale.

Guess where in the world this exotic location is…

East Sister Rock Island Florida - Visit50.com
East Sister Rock Island – now you know what to get me for the holidays…

Florida. Yeah that’s right, right here in the United States. For just $12 million you can own East Sister Rock Island off the coast of Florida, which comes with its own moat. Act now and they’ll even throw in the 5,000 foot home and a helipad. Bargain!

Apparently there are entire sites dedicated to listings of private islands. Thanks to Amateur Traveler for inspiring this post.

Profiled on a travel website: Tripper of the Week

Seven questions with…me!  I’m featured as the “Tripper of the Week” on travel community website, Tripping.com.   The interview covers what inspired me to travel for a half year through 15 countries, the interactions with locals that were most memorable, the most exciting outdoor activities I did on my trip, and what I love most about NYC. They have a great site and community; check it out!

-> Tripper of the Week: Todd Cohen | The Tripping Blog

Todd Cohen is a world traveler, photographer, writer.  He lives for travel adventures, and just got back from a half-year trip which took him to 15 countries (and shares them on Visit50.com).  Although he’s traveled all around the globe, he has a soft spot for NYC.

Here’s the full interview.

Machu Picchu, Peru, in South America after 5 days of hiking and camping

I’ve used both Tripping and CouchSurfing.com and think they have great travel communities; I’ll write about them in an upcoming post. In the meantime, enjoy their 7-question interview:

===========================================//

Tell us a little bit more about your background – Todd in a nutshell.

After a trip to to Australia after college, I came back with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for new experiences, new cultures, and new sights around the world. I’ve always been really curious, but now that carried over into travel. I started dreaming of different things I wanted to do, and places I wanted to visit. I made bucket lists with specific travel goals.

I launched a travel blog, at Visit50.com. It started as a response to all the questions I was receiving from my family and friends. “Did you really go swimming with sharks??  Were you scared to travel alone?  Can you really float in the Dead Sea or is that a myth?  Did you really have a python around your neck??  What was it like to be arms-length from baby orangutans?”  I’m answering them all on my website with my photography from up close encounters.

The name Visit50.com comes from my travel goal – I want to visit all 50 states, and 50 countries, by age 50.  Every state and every country in the world has something fascinating about it that make it worth visiting. [Trippers, take a moment to count how many you’ve visited…]

What inspired you to travel to 15 countries in 5 months?

I’ve always wanted to travel the world, and wished that I could.  Like many people, I felt like I “didn’t have the opportunity” or the funds to take a big trip.  I work in an industry that provides just two weeks vacation time (that you can’t use together), so a long trip simply wasn’t feasible.  For years I’ve said that the next time I find myself in between jobs, I’m going to travel the world. So I did. You create your own opportunities in life, and this was mine.

I made travel a priority and just made it happen. At the end of 2010 I cashed in my air miles and got a ticket into Hong Kong, and back through Narita (Tokyo) six weeks later.  The rest was a mostly blank canvas that would be filled with places I’ve been excited to visit for years, and new places that I’d learn along the way. I kept extending the trip, and ended up visiting 15 countries over 5 months. It was amazing!

It was the perfect marriage of my interests and passions – photography, culture, architecture, wildlife, et al. I found myself up close with monkeys, sharks, elephants, and beasts I’d never even heard of!   The best part might have been meeting all the amazing people from around the world, both locals and travelers.

Of all your interactions with locals, which has been the most memorable?

It’s so difficult to choose just one because meeting locals is one of my favorite aspects of traveling. With that said, I just posted photos from one interaction that was particularly memorable. I was on a little island off the coast of Borneo, photographing sunsets, sea turtles, and little kids that lived in the village. I approached them and asked if they’d like to pose for a photo. They all refused, with the exception of one brave kid. After taking the photo they were about to run away when I turned my camera around and showed them the photo. I’ll never forget their reaction.

They were elated, as if they’d never seen their reflection in anything other than the water they swim in. I asked for another photo and this time they posed. I thanked them and put away my camera but they asked for more photos. Each time their pose got a little more creative. They were rockstars, and enjoying the limelight.

From that day on, they would spot me from across the island and ask me to take their photos and show them, and the group of kids that followed me kept growing.  At the end of the week I made a little slideshow for them. Adorable!

What are 3 of the most exciting outdoor activities you’ve participated in during your travels?

SCUBA diving tops the list. I finished my PADI open-water course and got certified in Bali, and that set the stage for some incredible dive experiences throughout my trip (particularly in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines).  The feeling of swimming through colorful fish (and huge predators) was amazing!

My first ship wreck dive was particularly memorable – it was the first I found myself eye-to-eye with an actual shark.  I was terrified!  I can hardly believe that just a month later I was actually seeking out opportunities to swim in shark-infested waters. I found plenty of them!

Hiking sounds like such a common activity, but I’ve had so many unique hiking experiences with other travelers that were memorable. I’ve gone . I’ve gone hiking up a volcano in Indonesia and to the other side where they have a sulfur mining operation. I’ve explored the ruins of Ankor Wat and reached the top of the Great Wall of China .

Photographing wildlife — Photography is a passion of mine, and considering I live in NYC, travel enables me to have those experiences. I love seeing animals in zoos, but my travels have offered such great access to see them in their natural habitat.  I was right near baby orangutans and camels, and at one point found myself completely surrounded by monkeys. You’re on their turf, so it’s a combination of scary and awesome (note to the monkeys – I can’t take your photo when you jump on my back!  Elephants and whale sharks are both massive – I’m hoping my photos do them justice.  Some of my favorite photos came from moments observing and photographing wildlife that I hadn’t even heard of – from an extremely rare encounter with proboscis monkey that had a huge nose and a pot belly, to tarsiers that look like Gremlins.

Honorable mentions:  tarzan swinging and tubing in Laos, kayaking through caves in Halong Bay,  learning to surf in Bali, floating in the Dead Sea, sliding down red sand dunes in Mui Ne, wind-surfing trekking up to Machu Picchu, riding through the desert of Wadi Rum, ziplining through a cloud forest in Costa Rica, eating crazy foods at night markets all over Asia, and and more.

What are the 3 things you most enjoy about hosting?

I love exchanging travel stories, learning their unique insights and perpective, and introducing them to the city I love.

You’re based in New York.  What are the top 5 attractions every first-time traveler must see?

Two of the many things I love about New York is that (a) it’s impossible to narrow it down to just 5 attractions, and (b) if you take a poll of New Yorkers on this, everybody has a different answer.  It’s such a wonderfully diverse city that everyone seems to have something that they appreciate more than the rest.

Most lists start with a climb up the Statue of Liberty, through Times Square, and up the Empire State Building, and then it splinters from there. Central Park and Rockefeller Center often get votes.

My tour is always customized to their interests, but what makes New York unique is the neighborhoods and combination of cultures in one city. I often take my guests on a walking tour all around the city, through the village and SoHo and over the Brooklyn Bridge.  New York’s financial district is historic, but you might be more interested in seeing the places you remember from Seinfeld, Friends, Gangs of New York, or Sex and the City.  Seeing the NYC skyline is often on the must-see, but while the view from Empire State Building is impressive, there’s a dozen other places that you might enjoy the view from even more.  For my most recent guests, we ate our way around the city, mixing delicious restaurants, bite-size desserts, and combining the famous sites with the little-known gems that New Yorkers love.

The beauty of NYC is that my answer for this changes all the time. My friends and I are constantly discovering new places that are awesome.

Sidenote – I’m writing a little post on the places I love visiting in New York City – look for it on Visit50.com.

Where are you headed next?

My next trip will be to San Francisco – I’m finally going this upcoming Fall.  The top 10 next places outside the US on my list include Spain, Argentina, Equador (specifically the Galapagos Islands), Czech Republic, Morocco, Greece, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, and all over Scandanavia.  My unquenchable thirst for new travel experiences just might lead me to meeting Trippers in an around-the-world trip. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Happy travels Todd!  When you visit San Francisco, be sure to let us know.  We’d love to connect with you!

Rent Liechtenstein for $70k per night

Liechtenstein Offers Entire Country For Rent — Now that we’ve passed “Black Friday,” Americans are scrambling to shop for the perfect gift. That got me thinking – what do rich people buy for the people that have everything?  How about renting an entire country? I’m not kidding!

You might remember reading that Snoop Dogg tried to rent out the entire European country of Liechtenstein (between Austria and Switzerland, population=33,000), for a music video earlier this year, but was of course denied, but here’s the twist. They only said no due to timing. They would have accepted his offer if they had more notice.  It’s well-known as a tax-haven for the wealthy, but what if they actually made the entire country available for a fee?  So the Snoop offer got Lichtenstein thinking about the marketing and revenue opportunities, and now they’re putting the entire country on the market for $70,000 per night.

What do you get for a $70k rental fee?

Vaduz Castle - available for rent along with the entire country of Liechtenstein for $70k/night!

Renaming city streets and town squares, printing your own temporary currencies, and carving logos into the snow on the mountainside is just the beginning. You can also choose to be welcomed with a custom medieval festival, or be greeted by marching bands and mayors who will present you with the key to the city. Renters can sip wine at the Prince’s estate while being wowed by a fireworks show.

They will have the run of the land and use of the country’s police, even though Liechtenstein has one of the lowest crime rates in the area. The new temporary ‘owners’ of country will be presented with a symbolic key to the country in a ceremony at the state parliament. Guests will be treated to wine-tasting from the Prince of Liechtenstein’s personal cellar, skiing and a sumptuous dinner overlooking Vaduz Castle.

Oddly enough, though you can do all these exciting things and have exceptional treatment, the amenities tab under Liechtenstein’s page says there’s no smoking allowed in the country. I like them already!

It has 500+ bedrooms, and the minimum stay is two nights. The rental rates start at $70,000 a night to accommodate 150 people, which includes catering and “basic branding.”  Two night minimum stay.

Unfortunately, people who might have wanted some privacy will be disappointed as the country’s 30,000 population will be allowed to stay.

The rental offer comes from Liechtenstein-based marketing firm Rent a Village by Xnet and Airbnb, which also has 10 European villages on its books. So, if renting an entire country is too extravagant or cost-prohibitive, there is always the option of renting a village in Austria or Switzerland for a mere $60,000 per night. What a perfect Christmas or Channukah gift!  File this one under, “must be nice…”

Liechtenstein on Wikipedia.

Monkey self-portraits

Monkey steals camera and takes Facebook-style monkey self-portraits

Who knew primates had photography skills?  A monkey stole a wildlife photographer’s camera, and then started taking pictures of himself, even smiling in the photos.  The crested black macaque monkey (black ape) swiped the camera and took monkey self-portraits at arms length, like you’d see on a 15-year old girl’s Facebook or Instagram page. It’s a monkey selfie!

monkey self portrait from this Sulawesi crested black macaque (the black monkey pictured), who stole a camera and took pictures of himself. It's a monkey selfie!
Sulawesi monkey steals a camera and snaps his new profile pic, a monkey self-portrait

It happened when wildlife photographer David Slater was visiting a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, he left his camera unattended and a crested black macaque monkey grabbed it and proceeded take Facebook-style monkey self-portraits. Who knew “black apes” took pictures? It’s actually a decent monkey self-portrait!

If you’re curious, I found out some interesting facts about these inquisitive monkeys below:

Sulawesi crested black macaque / Black-Crested Macaque, Tangkoko National Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia By Sean Crane. Sulawesi crested black macaque
great shot of a Crested black Macaque. I love his expression
Some crested black macaque facts:
  • They’re promiscuous – with both males and females mating multiple times with multiple partners
  • They live in groups, and tend to either be all males or be 4:1 females to males.
  • Their diet is 70% fruits
  • They’re extremely rare and critically endangered
  • They’re found in Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia, and some tiny islands near it
  • Many names — crested black macaque, Sulawesi black macaque, Celebes crested macaque, Sulawesi crested macaque, or the black ape. Scientific name: Macaca nigra
Sulawesi crested black macaque / Black-Crested Macaque, Sulawesi, Indonesia. photo by Sean Crane
I love his expression in this portrait! photo by Sean Crane

I love his expression in the above monkey self-portrait; it reminds me of the closeups of long-tailed macaques that I snapped in Malaysia.

Macaques can be unpredictable (like these monkeys having sex while I was photographing the view of the Ulu Watu cliffs in Indonesia).

The sound got his attention and he kept pressing it. At first it scared the rest of them away but they soon came back – it was amazing to watch. He must have taken hundreds of pictures by the time I got my camera back, but not very many were in focus. He obviously hadn’t worked that out yet.

The facebook-style monkey self-portrait photos were actually taken by the monkey. They’re courtesy of wildlife photographer David Slater. The two (above) impressive photos on this page were by wildlife photographer Sean Crane.

Sulawesi crested black monkey self-portrait, worthy of Facebook or Instagram. It's a monkey selfie! Sulawesi crested black macaque. Visit50.com
photo from David Slater, taken by this crested black monkey

Other primates from my travels: I was amazed how the mannerisms can be so similar to humans. Although they’re technically less closely related to humans than orangutans, I was surprised by how human-like proboscis monkey behavior could be. The baby monkeys (long-tailed macaques) in Borneo were cute, but the tarsiers (aka “Gremlins”) still may have been the cutest primates I’ve seen in person.

Sulawesi Sulawesi crested black macaque / crested black monkey - facebook style monkey self-portrait. monkey selfie! Visit50.com
this shot reminds me of a teenage girl taking Instagram or Facebook selfie pics

Original story from Daily Telegraph. Thanks to Grace for sending me the story.

Could your cell phone really cause a plane crash??

“We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle series L1011. It came off the line 20 months ago. It carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?” – Toby Ziegler, West Wing

We’ve all heard the pre-landing announcement asking that we turn off electronic devices, and most of us have thought it sounded ridiculous (each time reminded me of the above rant from the West Wing pilot episode). But a new airline industry report says perhaps there’s a possibility there’s something  to it. Yes, seriously.

The International Air Transport Association studied survey responses from 125 airlines from 2003 to 2009 and found … “75 incidents of possible electronic interference that airline pilots and other crew members believed were linked to mobile phones and other electronic devices.” Twenty-six of them, a tad more than a third, “affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear.” Another 17 hit navigation systems, with 15 affecting communication systems. It’s all according to an industry investigation shared by ABC News. The iphone just got that much more dangerous.

Scariest quotes from the report:

  • “Autopilot disengaged by itself”
  • “left GPS is not reading correctly”
  • “rapid changes in cabin altitude and altitude control”

Note – the report stresses that it is not verifying that the incidents were caused by cell phones, but it includes a sampling of the narratives provided by pilots and crewmembers who believed they were experiencing electronic interference.

I’m still skeptical, and so is ABC’s John Nance, a former Air Force and commercial pilot:

“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there, but it’s not evidence at all. It’s pilots, like myself, who thought they saw something but they couldn’t pin it to anything in particular. And those stories are not rampant enough, considering 32,000 flights a day over the U.S., to be convincing.”

Also, Boeing and Honeywell Aviation just released a statement about the March’11 report about Wi-Fi interference: Phase 3 Display Units used by pilots in Boeing 737 aircraft are susceptible to “blanking” in the presence of Wi-Fi equipment. Scary!

photo - plane crash
Can using your Iphone really cause THIS??

How serious is the wifi interference issue?  Alaska Airlines distributed iPads to its pilots to replace paper flight manuals, but they’re not permitting its pilots to use their new iPads to access the Internet in the cockpit after witnessing the Wi-Fi interference with Honeywell Phase 3 display units (also it’s an FAA rule). OK, but that’s still not cause for fear. The media’s big on scare tactics to get your attention but it sounds like it’s an issue with one specific module, and only at elevated power levels (not typical power levels).

Boeing, meanwhile, says: “Current testing by Boeing and Honeywell has determined that blanking may occur when a DU is subjected to testing procedures specified by the FAA requirements (AC-20-164) during installations of Wi-Fi systems on the airplane. Based on testing that has been conducted, Boeing and Honeywell have concluded that actual EMI levels experienced during normal operation of typical passenger Wi-Fi systems would not cause any blanking of the Phase 3 DU. This issue does not exist with the Phase 1 or 2 DU’s.”
Honeywell says that, during recent ground testing “at elevated power levels”, the company observed a momentary blanking on the ‘flat panel’ liquid crystal displays that it developed and pioneered for Boeing.
“The screens reappeared well within Boeing’s specified recovery time frame. The screens have not blanked in flight and are not a safety of flight issue. Honeywell is working to ensure the problem is addressed and fixed and that our technology will continue to exceed specifications,” says Honeywell.

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/03/10/354179/wi-fi-interference-with-honeywell-avionics-prompts-boeing.html

Link to ABC’s story, and the earlier ZDnet story on wifi causing interference and potentially a plane crash is here, with the FlightGlobal (aviation blog) here.

Here’s the West Wing episode that I referenced at the top:
FLIGHT ATTENDANT 2
[approaches Toby] Sir, I need you to turn off your computer.

FLIGHT ATTENDANT 2
I need you to turn off your laptop, sir. It interferes with our navigational
systems.

TOBY
You know when you guys say that, it sounds ridiculous to most people, right?

FLIGHT ATTENDANT 3
Mr. Ziegler? A message was just patched up to the cockpit for you. I'm not sure
I've got it right. POTUS in a bicycle accident?

TOBY
[stops typing and looks up] You got it right. [reaches for his cell phone]

FLIGHT ATTENDANT 2
You can't use your phone until we land, sir.

TOBY
We're flying in a Lockheed eagle series L-1011. It came off the line 20
months ago and carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still
flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?

Here’s the link to the full transcript from that West Wing episode (pilot episode, aired Sept ’99). It was the best show on television and we miss it!

Monkey steals camera and takes Facebook-style pics

Note – this post has moved to here –Monkey steals camera

Monkey steals camera and takes Facebook-style self-portraits

Who knew primates had photography skills?  A monkey stole a wildlife photographer’s camera, and then started taking pictures of himself, even smiling in the photos.  The crested black macaque monkey (black ape) swiped the camera and took self-portraits at arms length, like you’d see on a 15-year old girl’s Facebook page.

this crested black macaque (monkey) stole a camera and took pictures of himself
Monkey steals a camera and snaps his new profile pic

Full post at Monkey steals camera and takes Facebook-style self-portraits.

Philippines Orders Tsunami Evacuation Along Coast

I’m OK!  I’m currently in the Philippines (I’m about a month behind on posting this blog – catching up soon!) but I’m safe!  They’re bracing for a possible tsunami on the east coasts of the northern islands (I’m in Boracay, an island in the center) after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeast of Japan, sending waves crashing through coastal towns.  I thought I’d address the recent news (just as I did after leaving Jordan and Bahrain).

Live updates on the 8.9 earthquake in Japan here.

Philippines orders tsunami evacuation along coast

Associated Press, Manila, Philippines | Fri, 03/11/2011 3:21 PM | World

Philippine officials are ordering an evacuation of coastal communities along the country’s eastern seaboard in expectation of a tsunami following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan.

Philippine Volcanology and Seismology Institute director Renato Solidum says the first 3-foot (1-meter) high waves are expected to hit the northernmost Batanes islands by 5 p.m. (09:00 GMT) Friday.

Disaster management officials in Albay province southeast of Manila say they have ordered residents to move to designated evacuation sites that are at least 15 feet (5 meters) above sea level.

————-/

Philippines Orders Tsunami Evacuation

Published: Friday, Mar 11, 2011, 14:59 IST
Place: Manila | Agency: Reuters

The Philippines’ seismic agency raised its tsunami warning alert, advising people to stay away from shorelines in eastern coastal areas on Friday evening, after an 8.9 magnitude quake hit Japan.

“Based on tsunami wave models, coastal areas in Philippine provinces fronting the Pacific Ocean are expected to experience wave heights of at most 1 metre,” said Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

He said the first wave would arrive between 5pm and 7pm (0900-1100 GMT).

“People are advised to stay away from the shoreline during the period,” Solidum said, with coastal residents advised to move inland.

Boats already at sea were advised to offshore in deep waters until further advised, while owners of boats in harbours, estuaries or shallow coastal water were advised to secure their vessels and move away from the water front.

 

Article from Bloomberg follows:

The temblor hit at 2:46 p.m. local time 130 kilometers (81 miles) off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo. Buildings shook in the capital, and television footage showed a wave of water engulfing farmhouses and roads along the coast and fires breaking out in an oil plant and buildings in Tokyo.

Waves traveling as fast as 800 kilometers an hour may be radiating from the epicenter, sparking warnings in countries that lie in their path. The quake is the strongest since a 9.1 magnitude temblor off North Sumatra in Indonesia in December 2004 left about 220,000 people dead or missing in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean.

Waves may reach the Philippines at 9:55 a.m. Greenwich Meantime, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin, advising authorities to “take appropriate action.”

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised its tsunami alert level.