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Tsunami strikes Japan after major quake

Tokyo (CNN) -- An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan on Friday, triggering tsunamis and sending a massive wave filled with debris that included boats and houses inching toward land.

The number of fatalities was unclear, but Japan's Kyodo news reported at least 10 killed and numerous injured.

The quake prompted at least 19 countries and numerous Pacific islands to issue tsunami warnings. It was followed by powerful aftershocks that were felt in capital of Tokyo.

The quake's epicenter was 373 kilometers (231 miles) away from Tokyo, the United States Geological Survey said. But residents there continued to feel aftershocks long after the quake

Read more about countries under tsunami alert

At Tokyo Station, one of Japan's busiest subway stations, people grabbed each other to steady themselves. Children cried. An announcement over the station loudspeaker warned commuters to remain underground.

Map: 8.9 earthquake hits Japan

Cars submerged in water after quake


U.S. Geological Survey
With bus and train lines interrupted, workers and children poured into the streets after offices and schools were closed.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan appealed for calm and said there were no reported leaks of radioactive materials from power plants.
A spokesman for the U.S. military bases in Japan said there were no immediate reports of significant damage or injuries there.
The quake rattled buildings and toppled cars off bridges and into waters underneath. Waves of debris flowed like lava across farmland, pushing boats, houses and trailers.
Firefighters battled a blaze at an oil refinery in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo.
"This was larger than anyone expected and went on longer than anyone expected," said Matt Alt in Tokyo.
"My wife was the calm one ... she told us to get down and put your back on something, and leave the windows and doors open in case a building shifts so you don't get trapped."
Richard Lloyd Parry said when the quake struck, he looked through a window and saw buildings shaking from side to side.
"Central Tokyo is fine from what we see, people are calm ... and not going inside buildings," he said.
Such a large earthquake at such a shallow depth creates a lot of energy, said Shenza Chen of the U.S. Geological Survey.
It caused a power outage in about 4 million homes in Tokyo and surrounding areas.
A tsunami is sweeping across the Pacific Ocean, with a wall of water heading toward at more than a dozen countries.
An earthquake of that size can generate dangerous tsunamis to coasts outside the source region, the National Weather Service said.
Humanitarian agencies were working with rescue crews to reach the people affected.
"When such an earthquake impacts a developed country like Japan, our concern also turns to countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, which might not have the same resources," said Rachel Wolff, a spokeswoman for World Vision.
Wolff said her agency is helping people on the ground in Japan and teaming up to help others in countries along the path of the tsunami.
In Philippines alone, the tsunami is expected to hit in the early morning and the government has ordered the evacuation of 19 provinces along the coast, which could affect hundreds of thousands of people
Authorities in at least 20 countries and numerous Pacific islands issued tsunami warnings, the National Weather Service said.
The wide-ranging list includes Russia and Indonesia, Central American countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica and the U.S. state of Hawaii, where warning sirens were sounded in the morning.
The tsunami could cause damage "along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii," warned the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property."
Tsunamis are a series of long ocean waves that can last five to 15 minutes and cause extensive flooding in coastal areas. A succession of waves can hit -- often the highest not being the first, said CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.
The quake was the latest in a series in the region this week.
Early Thursday, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck off the coast of Honshu.
A day earlier, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off of Honshu, the country's meteorological agency said.
The largest recorded quake took place in Chile on May 22, 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5, the USGS said. Thursday's quake was the fifth-strongest in the world since 1900, the agency said.

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