Japan hit by massive quake, tsunami, 200-300 killed (Roundup)

March 11th, 2011 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, March 11 (IANS) Ten metre high tsunami waves slammed northeastern Japan Friday triggered by a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and swept away people, cars, boats, crops and buildings as the ferocious waves rushed inland. At least 200 to 300 people are feared to have died.

Some 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the tsunami-hit coastal city of Sendai, following the quake that hit Japan’s northeastern Honshu island Friday, the Tokyo-based Kyodo news agency said.

The death toll is unclear, but police say 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the port city of Sendai, said a BBC report.

The waves also washed away a ship carrying about 100 people off the Miyagi coast, DPA said.

The major places affected in Japan are Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Kamaishi and Sendai prefectures.

Over 300 homes were knocked down by the quake-triggered tsunami in Iwate Prefecture.

The tsunami reached up to five kilometres inland in Fukushima Prefecture.

A state of atomic power emergency was declared at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima but no radiation leaks had been detected.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, some cooling functions of the plant were not working and one reactor cannot be cooled down. Local authorities called on 2,000 residents living in the neighbourhood to evacuate, local media reported.

The dead were reported in northeastern Japan and the Kanto region. More than 100 people were injured and many were missing, including a number of children who were sucked into the sea, public broadcaster NHK reported.

According to the Meteorological Agency, the quake was the biggest on record in Japan.

The agency noted there were more aftershocks than usual, including three of more than magnitude 7.

About 50 people were injured in Tokyo, including 35 people at a hotel where the roof collapsed. Media reported extensive damage to buildings in and around Tokyo.

Along the coasts, waves swamped buildings and swept over roads and other infrastructure, including Sendai’s airport. People gathered on the roofs of inundated buildings. Women waved white handkerchiefs from windows, seeking help.

Television footage showed vehicles submerged in Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture, as a 4.2-metre tsunami hit the city’s coast and many houses were washed away in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.

Piles of rubble lay on the city’s streets, there was extensive damage to buildings and cars overturned in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture.

High waves also hit such cities as Hiroo and Kushiro on the northern island of Hokkaido.

The agency warned more waves up to 10 metres high would hit the coast of eastern Japan.

The agency issued more tsunami warnings in southern Japan, forecasting waves as high as two metres on the southern island of Kyushu and the southwestern island of Okinawa, 1,600 km southwest of Tokyo. A tsunami three metres high would hit Miura, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, the agency said.

Tsunami warnings were issued for wide swathes of the eastern coast and across the Pacific, including Russia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Pacific islands and up and down the coast of the Americas.

The US Geological Survey measured the quake at 8.9 on the Richter scale while Japan’s Meteorological Agency recorded it at a magnitude of 8.8.

The quake, which hit at 2.46 p.m. (0546 GMT) at a depth of 24.4 km, shook buildings in Tokyo violently, and some caught fire.

NHK showed footage of blazes at petrochemical complexes in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo.

City officials in Sendai said 14 fires were reported there. A fire also broke out in the turbine hall of the Onagawa nuclear power station in Miyagi prefecture, but officials there and at other reactors said no radioactive leaks were detected.

Nuclear power stations on the Pacific coast in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures shut down operations automatically after the quake hit.

Narita International Airport outside Tokyo and airports in Senda, Iwate Hanamaki, Aomori and Yamagata were closed.

About 3.9 million households experienced power outages in the metropolitan area, Tokyo Electric Power Co said. About 4.4 million households in eastern Japan suffered power failures.

As aftershocks continued in northeastern Japan and around Tokyo, all train services in these regions, including bullet trains, were suspended.

Mobile phone services were disrupted as people frantically called family and friends.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the government had set up a task force to deal with the aftermath of the quake.

Japan also received offers of aid from other countries, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

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