An earthquake measuring 8.8 struck off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital Tokyo, causing “many injuries”, major tsunami damage and at least one fire.
public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by tsunami in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture. Black smoke was seen billowing from a building in Odaiba, a Tokyo suburb, and bullet trains to the north of the country were halted.
Television showed cars bobbing in water along side fishing boats. A 50 cm tsunami hit Japan’s northern coast.
“The building shook for what seemed a long time and many people in the newsroom grabbed their helmets and some got under their desks,” Reuters correspondent Linda Sieg said.
“It was probably the worst I have felt since I came to Japan more than 20 years ago.”
US officials said the 8.8-magnitude quake struck about 250 miles (400km) from Tokyo at a depth of 20 miles. The stock market extended its losses after the quake was announced.
Japan’s northeast Pacific coast, called Sanriku, has suffered from quakes and tsunamis in the past and a 7.2 quake struck on Wednesday. In 1933, a magnitude 8.1 quake in the area killed more than 3,000 people. Last year fishing facilities were damaged after by a tsunami caused by a strong tremor in Chile.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
A tsunami warning was in effect for Japan
, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and US state of Hawaii.