TOKYO -- Japan was struck by a magnitude-8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicenter.
In various locations along Japan's coast, TV footage showed severe flooding, with dozens of cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by waters. A large ship swept away by the tsunami rammed directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, according to footage on public broadcaster NHK.
Officials were trying to assess possible damage from the quake but had no immediate details.
The quake that struck 2:46 p.m. was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a 7.4-magnitude one about 30 minutes later. The U.S. Geological Survey upgraded the strength of the first quake to a magnitude 8.9.
The meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific coast of Japan. National broadcaster NHK was warning those near the coast to get to safer ground.
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 the U.S. state of Hawaii.