Japan has witnessed its largest earthquake since records began, sending a tsunami into the country’s northeast coast.
The tremor measured a staggering 8.9, triggering a 33 ft wall of water which swept away buildings, ships and anything else that stood in its deadly path.
The death toll is unclear, but police in the port city of Sendai have discovered between 200 to 300 bodies. At least 90 other people are reported to have died, and many more are still missing.
A passenger train is currently unaccounted for and a ship carrying around 100 dock workers is said to have been swept away.
The quake struck 400 km north east of Tokyo, and tsunami warnings have been extended across the Pacific to North and South America. The waves have rolled thousands of miles and it is not yet known if they will cause major damage in other countries.
In Japan, fires have broken out across affected areas, including a Cosmo oil refinery in the city of Ichihara (Chiba prefecture) bursting into 100 ft flames. Fires are also engulfing vast areas of coast land, with homes and buildings in Kesennuma (Miyagi prefecture) being affected.
A state of emergency has been declared at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant’s cooling system shut down automatically when the quake occurred; however Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, said no radiation leaks have yet occurred in that plant or in any other reactors in the quake zone.
Many people in the country’s capital have said they have never felt such a powerful earthquake: 20 people are thought to be injured after a roof collapsed during a graduation ceremony. Trains services have halted and around 4 million homes suffered power cuts.