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Infrastructure damage is widespread, says Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Infrastructure damage in earthquake and tsunami-hit Japan is widespread with the north east of the of the country hardest hit, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said.

An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale struck 400km from Tokyo at 3.46pm local time yesterday triggering a powerful 4m tall tsunami, which swept boats, cars, buildings and tonnes of debris kilometres inland.

Sendai airport is flooded; Over 7M households are without electricity; 11 nuclear reactors at four different power stations have stopped operating in Miyagi and Fukushima where 2,000 residents have urged to evacuate. There is severe disruption to public transport, airports and road networks across Tokyo and northern Japan.  

Reports suggest at least 1,300 people have died as a result of the disaster.

The quake was around 8,000 times more powerful than the one that devastated Christchurch in New Zealand last month, and the fifth largest recorded since 1900. It was followed by more than 50 aftershocks, with a further earthquake measuring 6.6 hitting the mountainous central part of the country.

Tsunami warnings were issued for virtually the entire Pacific region. Waves reached the mainland US along the Oregon coast. Earlier, tsunami waves about 1m high flooded several beaches on Hawaii

Relatively minor waves also reached the Philippines, the Kuril Islands and Taiwan.

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