A magnitude-8.9 earthquake hit northern Japan late Thursday, Pacific time, generating a tsunami that washed away buildings and cars and prompted a widespread tsunami warning in other countries.
The epicenter was about 240 miles northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but buildings there shook violently, The Associated Press reported.
Bellevue has a longtime connection to the country, with a Japanese American community and a sister city relationship with Yao, in Osaka, about 250 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Parts of the Oregon coast and the southwest Washington coast have been evacuated because of a tsunami warning. Waves of up to three feet could hit the coast.
Google has launched a person finder for people trying to track down friends and family affected by the quake. Currently about 7,200 records are being tracked.
The American Red Cross advises that people who are looking for U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should call the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.
Organizations have started to mobilize to send aid to Japan and other countries affected by the quake the tsunamis that followed.
The American Red Cross has started to help in Japan, and set up feeding stations for people along the Oregon coast who were evacuated because of the tsunami threat. Click here for information on how to donate. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Japanese Red Cross has not yet requested help, though Red Cross workers in the Philippines and Indonesia are assisting with the tsunami alert.
GlobalGiving.org says that it is collecting money to disburse to organizations that are providing direct help to people in Japan, including International Medical Corps and Save the Children.
Watch this story for updates.