By Lester Holt, NBC News anchor
We have all been gripped by the drama of nature today as that massive earthquake spawned a tsunami that has marched from the shores of South America, clear across the Pacific Ocean.
It is hard to imagine an earthquake in Chile could trigger warning sirens in Hawaii. With the grim memories of the horror I witnessed in Port-au-Prince last month, it is also hard to imagine any quake could be more powerful than that one. Today’s 8.8 magnitude quake in Chile unleashed roughly 500 times more energy than the one that rocked Haiti.
Of course, Chile’s big cities have a much more modern infrastructure, and we can only hope that will be the saving grace as this tragedy unfolds. We’re still on the road in Vancouver covering the final weekend of the Winter Olympics, but the earthquake is our big story and we plan expanded coverage on the aftermath – from Santiago to Honolulu – on our broadcast tonight.
We will of course also make time to update the Games. We’ll close the program tonight with an explanation of sort to all that racket that has punctuated many of our Nightly News broadcasts during our time here. You no doubt noticed the float planes in the background of our shot before we changed to a view of the cauldron. It turns out the Vancouver harbor is one of this region’s busiest airports, with a control tower in the unlikeliest of places. I’ll take you along with some of the many commuters who rely on these float planes, and even put you in the cockpit of one when we see you tonight for NBC Nightly News.