An powerful earthquake followed by a tsunami have struck northeastern Japan.
It has been measured at 8.9 by the US Geological Survey, upgraded from an earlier reading of 7.9. The epicentre of the quake struck out at sea 100 kilometres from the coast.
A giant wave several metres high has struck Japan’s Pacific coast. A warning has been issued for a possible tsunami across the whole of the Pacific.
The Sendai area has been badly hit. Pictures showed water flooding houses and farms. The city’s airport was inundated.
Initial reports say there have been “many injuries”. Several fires have been reported in the Tokyo area and an oil refinery to the north of the capital was also ablaze.
Five nuclear power stations are reported to have been shut down.
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.
The quake was much stronger than a 7.2 quake which hit Japan on Wednesday.
It is Japan’s biggest earthquake in seven years.