Hundreds of people were killed in the tsunami that followed the 8.9 earthquake in Japan.

After Japan was hit by a severe earthquake, tsunami waves swirl near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture (state).

TOKYO, JAPAN - A powerful tsunami triggered by one of the world's largest earthquakes hit the east coast of Japanon Friday, killing hundreds of people as it washed away boats, vehicles, and homes while wildfires raged uncontrollably. The tsunami slammed Hawaii hours later, and warnings were sent across the Pacific, putting locations as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska, and the whole United States West Coast on high alert. After the reactor's cooling system failed, the area surrounding a nuclear power facility in Japan's northeast was evacuated.

According to the police, 200 to 300 bodies were discovered in Sendai, the city of Miyagi prefecture (state) closest to the epicenter of the quake. Another 110 individuals have been confirmed dead, with 350 people still missing. 544 individuals were also hurt, according to police. The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake produced a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks lasting several hours, many of which were magnitude 6.0 or higher.

Strong tremors shook dozens of towns and villages along a 1,300 mile (2,100 kilometer) stretchcoast, reaching as far as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometres) from the epicenter.

According to national broadcaster NHK, much of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000in Miyagi, burnt violently into the night with no apparent possibility of being doused. The fire started after the tsunami knocked over many cars, forcing them to leak oil and gas, according to a witness. According to NHK, the fire started hours later and rescuers had yet to arrive.

Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said,

“The earthquake caused extensive damage to large areas of northern Japan.

Thousands of residents near a nuclear plant in the city of Onahama have been ordered to move at least three kilometers from the plant. Even though the reactor was not emitting radiation, its core remained heated after it was shut down. The factory is located 270 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, at a distance of 170 miles.

There was also trouble at two more nuclear reactors, although there was no radioactive spill at either of them.

The coast guard of Japan said it was looking for 80 dock employees who were working on a ship that had been carried away from a shipyard in Miyagi.

Even in a country accustomed to earthquakes, this one was particularly devastating due to the tsunami that slammed onshore, engulfing everything in its path as it surged several miles (kilometers) inland before receding. Japanese TV networks presented apocalyptic visuals of raging water and uncontrollable conflagrations that resembled scenes from a Hollywood disaster film.

Large fishing boats and other sea vessels slammed into the city on strong waves, slamming into overpasses or sliding under them, and cutting power cables in the process. Vehicles were observed bobbing in the water, upturned and half submerged. Ships docked in ports collided with one another.

The tsunami smashed over embankments, washing everything in its path inland before reversing course and dragging the vehicles, homes, and other debris out to sea. Some of the houses erupted in flames, owing to ruptured gas pipes.

As cars attempted to flee, waves of muddy floods swept across fields near Sendai, taking structures, some of which were on fire, inland. Cars, trucks, buses, and heavy mud were strewn over the runways of Sendai Airport.

Highways leading to the worst-affected coastal districts were strewn with debris, and communications, including phone lines, were disrupted. Train services in northeastern Japan and Tokyo, which regularly serve 10 million people each day, were also halted, leaving a large number of people stranded in stations or wandering the streets. The Narita airport in Tokyo has been closed indefinitely.

Jesse Johnson, a native of Nevada who now resides in Chiba, north of Tokyo, was eating sushi with his wife when the earthquake struck.

"It didn't seem weird at first, but it kept happening. So I snuck my wife and myself under the table "According to the Associated Press, he said. "I've lived in Japan for ten years and have never experienced anything quite like this. The aftershocks continue to hit. It's gotten to the point where I'm not sure if I'm shaking or if there's an earthquake."

According to NHK, more than 4 million buildings in Tokyo and its surroundings were without power.

The streets were clogged with automobiles, buses, and trucks trying to get around and out of the city as night fell. As the temperatures fell, pedestrians flocked to the sidewalks to walk home, or at the very least find a warm location to stay the night.

Because the elevator was broken, Tomoko Suzuki and her elderly mother were on a packed corner in central Tokyo, unable to get up to their 29th-floor condominium. They tried unsuccessfully to hail a cab to take them to a relative's home. They called dozens of hotels, but they were all booked.

"We're freezing," Suzuki said. "We're at a loss about what to do."

A major fire broke out at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city, Chiba prefecture, and quickly grew out of control, with flames reaching 100 feet (30 meters).

Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary, said, "Our immediate evaluation shows that there has already been huge damage." "Based on that assessment, we will make every attempt to help."

He stated that the Defense Ministry was dispatching troops to the earthquake-stricken area. Several helicopters and a utility plane were on their way.

A fire broke out in a turbine building of a nuclear power plant in Miyagi, but it was quickly put out, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co.

According to the corporation, a reactor region at a nearby plant was leaking water. However, it is unknown if the breach was caused by tsunami water or something else. No radioactive leaks have been reported at any of Japan's nuclear power reactors.

Overall losses are expected to reach around $10 billion, according to Jefferies International Limited, a worldwide investment banking firm.

Hiroshi Sato, a disaster management officer in northern Iwate prefecture, said officials were struggling to gather a comprehensive picture of the damage.

"We don't even know how much harm has been done. As debris, cars, and other items were carried away by the tsunami, roads were severely damaged and blocked off "he stated

The magnitude 8.9 quake struck at 2:46 p.m., making it the largest earthquake in Japan since records began in the late 1800s and one of the largest ever recorded in the globe, according to the US Geological Survey.

According to the agency, the quake struck at a depth of six miles (10 kilometers) roughly 80 miles (125 kilometers) off the eastern coast. The location is 380 kilometers (240 miles) northeast of Tokyo. Several quakes have struck the same area in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude quake that caused minimal damage on Wednesday.

A tsunami warning has been issued for Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Chile, as well as other countries in the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Authorities in the Philippines advised coastal populations to evacuate, but no extraordinary waves were observed.

Thousands of Indonesians were forced to flee their houses as officials warned of a tsunami that may reach 6 feet (2 meters) in height. However, just 4 inch (10 centimeter) waves were measured. There were no major storms in the Northern Mariana Islands, which are a US territory.

Friday around 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), the first waves hit Hawaii. On Oahu and Kauai, a tsunami of at least 3 feet (one meter) was reported, and officials cautioned that the waves would continue and may grow stronger.

According to the USGS, Japan's worst prior quake occurred in Kanto in 1923, when an 8.3-magnitude temblor killed 143,000 people. In 1996, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Kobe, killing 6,400 people.