Japan hit by massive earthquake and tsunami

Television footage shows a wall of water surging inland, sweeping away lorries, boats and buildings.

A tsunami carries buildings (bottom) across water in Sendai in this still image taken from video footage March 11, 2011. A massive 8.9 magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing many injuries, fires and a four-metre (13-ft) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline, NHK television and witnesses reported.  REUTERS/NHK via Reuters TV (JAPAN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TEMPLATE OUT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN *** Local Caption ***  SIN78_JAPAN-QUAKE-_0311_11.JPG

TOKYO // Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake off its north-eastern coast today, shaking buildings in Tokyo for several minutes and triggering a tsunami.

The earthquake caused "many injuries," at least one fire and triggered a four-metre tsunami, NHK television and witnesses reported. There was also a warning of a 10-metre tsunami following the quake, Japan's biggest in 7 years.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck offshore 130 kilometres east of Sendai in Honshu at a depth of 24km. Japan's meteorological agency warned that a tsunami as high as 6 metres could strike the coast near Miyagi prefecture, closest to the epicentre. Smaller tsunamis of up to 50 centimetres reached some coastal communities, the agency said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami warning was in effect for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and US state of Hawaii.

In Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo.

Footage on national broadcaster NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks. Police and coastguard officials said they were assessing possible damage from the quake.

Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday.

Reporting by Reuters and Associated Press