On March 11, 2011, an earthquake struck off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, the nation's largest island and home to about 100 million people. Recorded as 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the most powerful quake ever to hit the country, and it triggered a massive tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country. Estimates of the death toll surpassed 10,000, and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the disaster was the nation's worst crisis since World War II.
In the wake of the destruction, the nation also faced a serious nuclear emergency - dangerous levels of radiation escaped a quake-stricken nuclear power plant after one reactor's steel containment structure was impacted by an explosion, and another reactor building in the same complex caught fire, releasing radioactive material directly into the atmosphere.
For extensive news coverage of the disaster, as well as information on locating missing persons involved, see the sites below.
With search-and-rescue operations still underway, relief efforts are turning toward the millions of survivors in desperate need of food, clean water, shelter and medical care. The aid and goodwill pouring in from across the globe has indeed been heartening, but more assistance is still needed and will be for some time to come.
To help you get started, we've compiled a list of established charities actively involved in relief efforts for victims of the earthquake in Japan, as recommended by USAID. Click on the links below to be taken directly to their earthquake donation pages.