A powerful tsunami spawned by the largest earthquake in Japan's recorded history slammed the eastern coas, sweeping away boats, cars, homes and people as widespread fires burned out of control. Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency says at least 17 people have died in the quake and tsunami that hit the north.
The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake was followed by at least 19 aftershocks, most of them of more than magnitude 6.0. Dozens of cities and villages along the 1,300-mile stretch of the country's eastern shore were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter in the sea off the northeastern coast. Even for a country used to earthquakes, this one was of horrific proportions. he quake struck at a depth of six miles, about 80 miles off the eastern coast.
Large fishing boats and other sea vessels rode high waves into the cities, slamming against overpasses. Upturned and partially submerged vehicles were seen bobbing in the water.
A tsunami warning was extended to a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile.