The sixth largest earthquake in history (USGS) devastated Japan today and sent a catastrophic 33 foot tsunami hurtling across the Pacific Ocean. People were forced to flee for their lives as the massive wave bore down on them, sweeping away everything in its path.
This afternoon, the Japanese declared a state of emergency at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima after the 8.9 quake caused the cooling system to fail. Meanwhile, a ship carrying 100 people was swept away by the tsunami. Their fate is unknown. The death toll has now risen to 300 but it is feared thousands more are at risk as the tsumami rips across the ocean. Tsunami warnings have been issued across the entire Pacific, as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.
Hawaii and a number of low-lying islands including Guam were braced for impact within the coming hours. The Red Cross has warned that the tsunami is higher than many of the islands themselves. Many people were panic buying in stores and stocking up on petrol as the wave sped thousands of miles across the sea. The tsunami which struck Sendai on the northeaster coast of Japan which has a population of about one million. Drivers were seen fleeing the waves on highways close to the coast as the impact of the huge quake swept ashore while the car park at Disneyland in Tokyo was submerged.
More than four million people are without power and the Japanese army has now been deployed. Several nuclear power stations have closed down automatically in the wake of the earthquake while officials ordered 'Get out of your homes - rush to high ground,' as sirens wailed. A fire broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture. Four Japanese nuclear power plants closest to the epicentre of the quake have been safely shut down, the UN atomic watchdog said Friday. The quake struck just under 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo, the US Geological Survey said. It was followed by 19 aftershocks, one as strong as 7.1.
The impact of the quake remains to be seen, with its magnitude comparable to the earthquake that sparked the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, killing 250,000 people. In Tokyo office workers cowered under their desks or stood in doorframes as buildings shook and swayed. But it was along the coast that the worst damage and the most deaths were expected to be reported. Bullet trains to the north of the country stopped while Narita airport has been closed with flights halted and passengers evacuated. The quake rattled skyscrapers in Tokyo further south, where the streets around the main train station were packed with commuters stranded after buses and trains were halted. Tokyo's underground system and suburban trains have also been halted while Sendai airport, the hub closest to the quake, has flooded. (DailyMail)