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Quake The Biggest In Japan’s History

March 12, 2011

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The earthquake that struck eastern Japan at 2:46 p.m. Friday weighed in at magnitude 8.8, topping an October 1707 temblor of magnitude 8.6 as the nation’s strongest on record.

The quake originated around 130km off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Strong tremors lasted around two minutes, with the northern section of the prefecture recording a 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. Another temblor, with a focus off the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture, measured magnitude 7.3.

Four hypothesized focuses off the coastlines between Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures are believed to have shown the most powerful seismic activity, according to the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas, with Sendai airport in Miyagi Prefecture subsequently recording an estimated 10-meter-high tsunami.

The quake and tsunami’s death toll as of 4:50 a.m. had reached 184 in nine prefectures, including Tokyo, with 708 people reported missing and casualties coming to 947, according to the National Police Agency.

And with the tsunami having swallowed up entire sections of coastal towns and villages, the ranks of the dead and the missing are expected to grow.

About 200-300 bodies of people believed to have been swept away by the tsunami have been discovered in Sendai’s Wakabayashi Ward, according to the Miyagi Prefectural Police. In Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, entire coastal communities have been devastated by the tsunami. Landslides, collapsed structures and fires have also ravaged areas, with the destruction expected to increase.

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