Huge earthquake rocks Japan, tsunami hits coast, hundreds dead, nuclear disaster feared


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Thoughts and prayers. An 8.9-magnitude quake struck Japan Friday (7th largest on record, unprecedented in terms of size, 8,000 times larger than quake that devastated Christchurch in Feb) and Japan has been hit by two tsunamis (at the northeast coast). There are hundreds dead, media reports.

From NHK:

And this from AP at an airport:

The latest as of Saturday:

The death toll from the tsunami and earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, was in the hundreds, but Japanese news media quoted government officials as saying that it could rise to more than 1,300, most of them drowned. About 200 to 300 bodies were found along the waterline in Sendai, a port city in northeastern Japan and the closest major city to the epicenter. (NYT)

Japanese officials fear a meltdown at a nuclear power plant hit by Friday's earthquake after radioactive material was detected outside it.

Japan's nuclear agency said this meant fuel from one of the reactor's cores may have started melting.

Japanese media reported an explosion and smoke at one of the Fukushima plants. (BBC)

The AFP agency reported that a blast was heard and white smoke seen billowing into the air at one of two power plants which the Japanese government had placed under a state of emergency. Several workers were reported to have been injured.

Prime minister Naoto Kan had warned that a radiation leak might occur at one of the reactors at the Daiichi facility at Fukushima, 150 miles north of Tokyo, after Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake. (Telegraph)

From Friday:

Japan's top government spokesman and local administrators say emergencies have been issued at two nuclear power plants over cooling-system fears in the wake of Friday's giant earthquake.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the nuclear power plant in Fukushima developed a mechanical failure in the system needed to cool the reactor after it was shut down after the earthquake. He said there was no radiation leak.

Edano said the measure was a precaution and there was no radiation leak at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. He said the facility was not in immediate danger. (MSNBC)

1140 GMT: Sky News in the UK are reporting that there have been at least 19 aftershocks since the main 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck at 14:46 pm local time (0546 GMT) off the north-east coast of Japan.

1130 GMT: The city of Sendai, the capital of Honshu island's Miyagi Prefecture that has bornb the brunt of the damage from the tsunami, is one of Japan's 19 designated cities and has a population of over a million people. (AFP)

From Twitter: Tokyo might have something of a food problem tomorrow. Shelves are now emptying and transport is not going to be predictable

Reuters reporting a ship carrying 100 people swept away.

1133: The BBC's Kate McGowen in Jakarta says people in the north-east of Indonesia are waiting for the tsunami to hit the coast there any moment now.

1051 GMT: The United Nations says it is ready to send search and rescue teams to quake-hit Japan if the Asian state needs help, AFP reports from Geneva.

"Thirty-five international search and rescue teams are on alert, they are monitoring the situation and ready to help should Japan request aid," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). (AFP)

Footage from RT:

From BBC: Japan declares 'nuclear emergency' as attempts to cool reactor at northern plant are 'not going as planned' – official via NHK

From London's Independent: The tsunami moving across the Pacific is currently so large it could pass right over whole islands in the region

1126: The BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo says 32 people are now known to have died in the earthquake and tsunami. Our correspondent adds: "There are enormous crowds of people on the streets of Tokyo, the roads are clogged with traffic, and millions of people are walking home because the railways have been closed down. But it is calm and orderly. People are still queueing at pedestrian crossings. (BBC)

AFP has a live report from Japan / Al Jazeera has footage and coverage / BBC has live coverage

LONDON — 1025 GMT: A schoolboy was swept away in Miyagi prefecture — the region on the northeast coast of Japan's main Honshu island worst hit by the tsunami — by surging waters and there were fears the toll would keep climbing from the more than two dozen reported dead so far, AFP reports from Tokyo.

The masses of water overwhelmed coastal defences and swallowed up many square kilometres (square miles) of land in the region in scenes reminiscent of the devastation triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. (AFP)

0958 GMT: Belly-up ships, twisted cars and debris from shattered buildings crashed through the streets of port towns on the east coast of Japan's Honshu island on Friday, swept by a tsunami triggered by a huge earthquake which struck off the northeast coast of Japan at 14:46 pm local time (0546 GMT).

The huge wall of sea water unleashed by Japan's worst quake on record hit the Pacific coast of Honshu island, sweeping away whole houses and turning harbour areas into scenes of utter devastation (AFP)

0950 GMT: The death toll from the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit off northeast Japan on Friday, unleashing huge tsunamis along its Pacific coast, has reached 26, AFP reports from Tokyo citing press reports. (AFP)

"When you jump a magnitude from 7 to 8, it's not 10 times stronger, it's a 1000 times stronger," said CNN International meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. "With an … earthquake that shallow, that close to shore, there will be more than one tsunami." (CNN)

The wide-ranging (tsunami warning) list includes Russia and Indonesia, Central American countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica and the U.S. state of Hawaii. The weather service's bulletin is intended "as advice to government agencies."

The quake, which struck near the coast of Honshu on Friday afternoon unleashed a wall of water that rushed in toward land, leveling houses and cars in its path. (CNN)

A tsunami warning was extended to the whole of the Pacific basin, except for mainland United States and Canada, following the earthquake off Japan, the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said on Friday. (Reuters)

In the wake of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan, a tsunami advisory was issued for coastal areas of Washington, according to the National Weather Service forecast office.

A tsunami advisory "means a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is expected. Significant widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. (Seattle Times)

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