A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake, recorded by United States Geological Survey (USGS), hit northern Japan today at 14:46 pm (0546 GMT) triggering tsunamis as high as 10-meters, filled with debris that included boats, cars, and houses.
At 8.9 (Richter scale) it is one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history.
The quake struck about 400km from Tokyo at a depth of 20 miles. Afterward, dozens of powerful aftershocks have been reported so far (one as strong as 7.1).
The powerful tsunami waves swept through farmlands, which are normally many miles away from the coast, wreaking havoc on everything in their path.
The quake jolted the skyscrapers in Tokyo causing utter chaos. All the buses and trains were halted in the capital instantaneously as soon as the ground started shaking vigorously.
According to officials at least 32 people have been killed with scores wounded.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has issued a widespread warning for territories as far away as South America, New Zealand, and Hawaii, where immediate evacuations have been ordered.
Google is also displaying a tsunami warning on its home page for its visitors.
The center said in a statement:
“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours.”
The largest ever recorded earthquake took place in Chile on May 22, 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5 (as per USGS). Today’s earthquake was the 5th strongest in the world since 1900 and the most powerful to hit Japan since then.
Hidekatsu Hata, 36, manager of a Chinese noodle restaurant in Tokyo’s Akasaka area said:
“I was terrified and I’m still frightened. I’ve never experienced such a big quake before.”
Reuters Insider reporter Kei Okamura posted on Twitter:
“People were very frightened. Very rare since people in Japan are used to quakes. Today was very different.”
Asagi Machida, a 27-year-old web designer in Tokyo, was walking near a coffee shop when the earthquake hit:
“The images from the New Zealand earthquake are still fresh in my mind so I was really scared. I couldn’t believe such a big earthquake was happening in Tokyo.”
Aya Nakamura, an office worker in Tokyo said:
“I dashed out of my office. I sort of panicked and left behind my mobile phone and belongings. You see the crane on top of that tall building under construction? I thought it might fall off the building because all the buildings around me were shaking badly.”