Tokyo (Xinhua): An 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s northeastern Honshu island Friday, and 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the tsunami-hit coast city Sendai, according to the latest Kyodo report.
More than 300 homes were knocked down by quake-triggered tsunami in Iwate Prefecture, Kyodo News reported. And tsunami reached up to 5 km inland in Fukushima Prefecture.
A state of atomic power emergency was declared at a nuclear power plat in Fukushima but no radiation leaks have been detected.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said some cooling functions of the plant were not working and one reactor cannot be cooled down. Local authorities thus called on a total of 2,000 residents living in the neighborhood to evacuate, local media reported.
Up to 13,000 people were stranded at Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture and 10,000 at Haneda airport in Tokyo as a total of 711 domestic flights and a number of international flights were canceled following the massive quake.
The defense ministry requested cooperation from the U.S. military forces stationed in Japan and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos expressed willingness to work with the Japanese authorities to cope with the massive earthquake.
Shortly after the quake occurred, Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on the public to remain calm in the face of the disaster.
“Our government will make all-out efforts to minimize the damage caused by the earthquake,” Kan said at a news conference after a cabinet meeting summoned to deal with the quake.
A 10-meter tsunami has washed the port in Sendai city, where many house were flooded with seawater. Meanwhile, the runways of Sendai airport were submerged from tsunami, said local media reports.
An explosion was observed at the Cosmo Oil refinery in Chiba Prefecture following the massive quake.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) first upgraded the magnitude of the earthquake from 7.9 to 8.4 and later revised it up to 8.8, which the agency referred to as one of the largest quake ever observed in Japan.
The focus of the quake, which occurred at 2:46 p.m.(0546 GMT), was located some 130 km east of the Miyagi Prefecture at a depth of 24.4 km under the sea, said the JMA.
After the great quake occurred, all cabinet ministers were summoned to the prime minister’s office and a crisis management team were set up there.
In Tokyo and surrounding areas, up to 4 million homes suffered a power cut.
Edano said the government has dispatched Self-Defense Force troops to Miyagi Prefecture. And the defense ministry sent eight air fighters to check damage in the worst-hit areas.
And the Police Agency will dispatch 900 rescuers to the quake- hit areas in northeastern Japan.
All trains in Tohoku, Tokyo areas have been suspended Friday
And Tokyo metropolitan expressways as well as Tokyo subways and suburban rail services were also closed following the quake. But no big collapses were reported in Tokyo expressways.
In Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai airport was closed. A major power outage and gas leaks were reported in a number of areas in Sendai city, capital of the prefecture.
Fires were reported at 48 locations, including at an ironworks in Chiba Prefecture.
The quake affected the nation’s key transportation systems, including Narita airport, which were closed for safety checks on its runways.