The authorities in Japan now say at least five people have died after a powerful earthquake shook the country this morning. More than 200 people were injured in the tremor, which had a magnitude of 7.2.
TV footage showed mountains carved away by the force of the quake, roads ending abruptly in ravines and bridges buckled and broken.
The quake struck in Iwate, a sparsely populated scenic area around 300 kilometres north of Tokyo.
Hundreds of homes are without water and electricity, although it is thought they will be quickly restored by engineers.
Among those killed, one man died under falling rocks at a building site while another perished when his car was swept away in a landslide.
Military helicopters are heading for more remote areas, where an estimated 600 people are believed to be cut off.
Experts say the force of the quake is far less than the massive tremor which shook southwestern China a month ago, leaving around 87,000 people dead or missing.