TOKYO – For more than two terrifying, seemingly endless minutes Friday 11th March 2011, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan shook apart homes and buildings, cracked open highways and unnerved even those who have learned to live with swaying skyscrapers. Then came a devastating tsunami that slammed into north-eastern Japan and killed hundreds of people.
The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time and was the biggest to hit Japan since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. It ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, scientists said.
In the coastal town of Minami-soma, about 1,800 houses were destroyed or ravaged, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said. Fire burned well past dark in a large section of Kesennuma, a city of 70,000 people in Miyagi.
Officials say more than a thousand people are feared to be dead and over 215,000 made homeless , but it is feared the final death toll will be much higher.
Save the mothers trust has called out for an emergency appeal to help the victims.