The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert today urging U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan.

In the alert, the State Department said that airports and other public transportation in the Tokyo area, including subways and trains, are closed. It also says that many roadways both in Tokyo and in northern sections of Japan have been damaged.

Japan suffered from a major earthquake earlier today, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. They were then struck by another 7.1 quake about an hour later, and a 6.6 about 13 hours after that. After the earthquake, parts of Japan were then swamped by a tsunami and high surges are expected to continue for some time. Hundreds are reported to have died in the disaster.

The State Department stated that strong aftershocks are likely to continue for weeks.

The State Department is also advising U.S. citizens in Japan to attempt to contact family and friends that are in the U.S to confirm their well-being. They say that where phone and internet services are down, it may still be possible to send text messages.

In case of emergencies, the State Department said that they can be contacted at [email protected], or for callers in the U.S. or Canada, at 1-888-407-4747, or for callers outside the U.S. at 1-202-501-4444.