March 11, 2011 17:12
A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off Japan's northeastern coast, triggering a 10 meter tsunami that swept away boats, homes and cars along the coastline.
Video footage showed widespread inundation as mud waves carried debris over farmland in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi prefecture. Large-scale damage could be seen in various locations along the coast. In Chiba prefecture, a massive oil refinery fire has broken out.
Addressing the nation, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the government would do anything it can to minimize the effects of the disaster. The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific coast of Japan following the quake, which struck Friday about 125 kilometers off the eastern coast, at a depth of 10 kilometers. Residents in the coastal areas were urged to immediately evacuate to higher ground.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami warning was in effect for Russia, Marcus Island, New Zealand, Hawaii, Wake Island, the Northern Marianas, Australia and the South American Pacific coast. Warnings were also issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The Hawaii-based center said waves could reach six to ten meters high.
The massive quake was felt in Tokyo, where it shook buildings and caused several fires. The Tokyo metro system says all train and subway traffic in the city has been stopped. Tokyo's Haneda airport has reopened its four runways to accommodate traffic from other airports, including Narita. Aftershocks have also been reported in Tokyo.
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