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8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan

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A violent 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan causing major destruction and a state of panic across the country. This is the strongest tremor since Japan started keeping record of the seismic activity in the region 140 years ago.

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The quake struck at 2.46 P.M. local time, March10th, 2011, 130 kilometers off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, at a depth of 24 kilometers and was followed by a 7.1-magnitude aftershock at 4.25 P.M. This triggered a 10-metre tsunami that pounded the country's east coast.

Collapsed buildings, fires blazing, smashed boats and flooded streets caused havoc and stretched from Sendai, 300 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, closest city to the epicentre at sea, all the way towards the capital itself. According to police records around 300 people were killed, with countless declared missing. An evacuation order was issued to residents living within 3 kilometers of a reactor at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant after one of the reactors cooling systems failed. Later the Japanese government announced an atomic power emergency but said no radiation leaks were detected.

“The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," stated Prime Minister Naoto Kan. The estimated damage could escalate to hundreds of billions.

A tsunami alert was issued as high waves are expected across the Pacific region. The situation is closly monitored on the American and Canadian west coast.

Prime Minister Harper offered his condolences to the victims in Japan. No Canadians were injured following the natural disaster.

Tokyo’s Narita Airport, Japan’s main international gateway, restarted some flights after stopping services earlier. Canadian airlines told passengers to expect delays and cancellations of some international destinations as the tsunami threat moves across the Pacific Ocean.

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