Japan quake toll rises to 61

March 11th, 2011 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, March 11 (IANS/RIA Novosti) An 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which hit northeastern Japan Friday generating a tsunami as high as 10 metres and causing lot of devastation, has killed at least 61 people, Japan’s NHK TV channel reported.

Earlier reports put the toll at 38.

Many people have been injured and many are still missing following the quake that struck off the eastern coast of Japan earlier Friday. The quake was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks.

A tsunami more than 7.3 metres high hit the Soma port in the Fukushima Prefecture, while a tsunami over four metres high hit the ports of Kamaishi and Miyako in Iwate Prefecture, the country’s Meteorological Agency said.

NHK TV showed footage of waves sweeping away buildings and vehicles as far as 1.5 kilometres inland. Airports were closed down and train services suspended. More than 4 million homes are without power.

The Kyodo Japanese news agency said a ship with some 100 people on board was washed away.

Explosions have been reported at two major Nissan factories and a fire in a turbine building at Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi prefecture, Kyodo news said.

There was also a fire at an oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo.

The quake is the strongest to hit Japan in 78 years, the head of the Russian Hydrometeorological Center, Alexander Frolov, said in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel.

The country’s Meteorological Agency is urging people in quake-hit areas to evacuate to higher ground to avoid tsunamis.

More earthquakes measuring over 7.0 on the Richter scale could occur in and around Japan within a month, the Meteorological Agency said.

At least 19 countries and Pacific islands have issued tsunami warnings.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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