A massive earthquake has rocked Japan and sent a tsunami warning across the Pacific.
The 8.9 magnitude quake was the most powerful to hit Japan in 140 years, with its epicentre in the sea close to the coastal city of Sendai.
10-metre waves have swept away trees, cars, buildings and countless numbers of people. Japanese media are reporting that a ship with around 100 pepole on board was swept away by the tsunami.
A provisional death toll of 44 people is almost certain to increase considerably as the extent of the damage becomes apparent. In Sendai, an entire hotel crumbled to the ground.
Tsunami warnings have been issued for the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia as well as Hawaii and some areas on the west coast of South America. The Red Cross has warned that the waves are higher than some Pacific Islands which now face the real threat of being completely submerged.
Fires were reported at at least one nuclear power station, in Onagawa. The four nuclear plants nearest to the epicentre were shut. Several fires have been reported in the Tokyo area and an oil refinery to the north of the capital was also ablaze. The quake happened during the afternoon local time as many people were at work in the Japanese capital.
People dived for cover under desks as buildings shook.
The city’s Narita airport has been closed and rail links to the north of the country interrupted.
Japan is one of the world’s most seismically active areas and accounts for around a fifth of the world’s strongest quakes. On average an earthquake occurs there every five minutes; one particularly strong magnitude 7.2 quake struck on Wednesday.
Are you in Japan or another area under tsunami alert? Contact us and tell us what you see and witness: email@example.com or twitter@euronews