Videos: Massive earthquake sparks killer 23ft tsunami in Japan
HUNDREDS of people are feared dead after a huge earthquake rocked the coast of Japan, unleashing a 23ft tsunami which swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland and sparked alerts around the Pacific coast.
The quake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale – many times bigger than the recent disaster in Christchurch – struck at 2.46pm local time and was followed by five powerful aftershocks within about an hour, the strongest measuring 7.1.
Fires triggered by the quake burned out of control up and down the coast.
Two to three hundred bodies have been found in Sendai city, the closest major city to the epicentre, say police.
The quake and tsunami were followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.
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The death toll, which officially stands at more than 60, is likely to continue climbing given the scale of the disaster.
There are no reports of any British casualties so far.
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TV footage showed waves of muddy waters sweeping over farmland near the city of Sendai, carrying buildings – some of which were on fire – inland as cars attempted to drive away.
And the internet has seen many videos of the quake and the aftermath uploaded.
“This is a rare major quake, and damages could quickly rise by the minute,” said Junichi Sawada, an official with Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
The meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific coast of Japan as well as Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas, while a tsunami watch was issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and the US state of Hawaii.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “My thoughts are with the people of Japan at this time.
“We are in contact with the Japanese government and I have asked our ambassador in Tokyo to offer all assistance we can as Japan responds to this terrible disaster.
“We are also working urgently to provide consular assistance to British nationals. Our embassy and consulates-general across Japan are in touch with local authorities and making contact with British nationals to provide consular assistance.
“We have set up a crisis centre in the Foreign Office to co-ordinate our response and offer advice to anyone concerned about relatives or friends in Japan.
“We are not aware of any British casualties at this time.’’
Mr Hague urged UK nationals in Japan to make contact with the British Embassy in Tokyo on +(81) 3 5211 1100 or the Consulate-General in Osaka on +(81) 6 6120 5600.
Foreign Office advice for those in Japan is to check immediate surroundings for fire, gas leaks, broken glass and other hazards, and open doors and windows to avoid being locked in if there are after-shocks.
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