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World Last Updated: Mar 11th, 2011 - 15:30:48

Japan Earthquake 2011: 8.9 Magnitude Quake Devastates Island Nation
David Hope
Mar 11, 2011, 03:59

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Japan earthquake reports continue to arrive as Americans wakes up this morning. What we do know now is that a 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck and triggered tsunamis that hit northern Japan Friday, killing dozens and leveling buildings in the process. More widespread deaths are feared.

Japan's National Police Agency and officials said at least 32 people were killed, including 10 in Iwate Prefecture by tsunami waves, Kyodo News said. Reports of casualties from other regions were slowly coming in with local officials reporting one death each in Miyagi, Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures.

A woman died when a roof collapsed in Takahagi, Ibaraki Perfecture and a falling factory wall killed a person in the town of Haga, Tochigi Prefecture, Kyodo said.

The offshore quake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, struck at 2.46 p.m. Tokyo time, 81 miles off the coast of Sendai, capital of Miyagi Prefecture, more than 230 miles from Tokyo, at a depth of 15 miles. The quake triggered a number of powerful aftershocks including one with 7.4-magnitude and giant tsunamis, some as high as 13 feet.

Besides deaths and injuries, the disaster also set off fires at refineries, plants and other sites and forced the shut down of some of the nuclear power plants.

At least 4.4 million homes in the six quake-hit prefectures remained without power.

In Tokyo, trains were not expected to resume service any time soon.

Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa was quoted as saying the U.S. ambassador had informed him that U.S. military forces stationed in Japan would be ready to render any help.

Tsunami warnings and watches have been issued for nearly the entire Pacific region including Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.

A CNN report said in several office buildings in Tokyo papers were strewn all over the floor while people clung onto seats and desks during the quake.

The report said the largest quake ever recorded had a magnitude of 9.5 in Chile on May 22, 1960.

Stock markets in Asia sold off following the disaster and the Japanese yen, which had been showing much strength lately, also fell.

Source: UPI

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