Japan Quake: Scenes of Devastation

40 reported dead, figure all but certain to rise

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2011 6:48 AM CST | Updated Mar 11, 2011 7:53 AM CST

(Newser) – At least 40 people were killed in the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and ensuing 23-foot tsunami that struck Japan today, and another 39 are confirmed missing, officials tell the AP, though they cautioned that the figure was all but certain to rise given the scale of the disaster. There have now been more than 20 aftershocks, most registering higher than magnitude 6.0. Officials have also declared a state of emergency at one power plant after its cooling system failed, and two other nuclear plants have had problems as well, but so far none of them have leaked radiation.

Japan is accustomed to earthquakes, but this disaster is extreme even by its standards. "At first it didn't feel unusual, but then it went on and on," says one American living in Chiba. "I've lived in Japan for 10 years and I've never felt anything like this before. The aftershocks keep coming. It's gotten to the point where I don't know whether it's me shaking or an earthquake."

Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011 after a massive earthquake rocked Japan.
Vehicles are crushed by a collapsed wall at a carpark in Mito city in Ibaraki prefecture on March 11, 2011 after a massive earthquake rocked Japan.   (Getty Images)
Houses are in flame while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area.
Houses are in flame while the Natori river is flooded over the surrounding area by tsunami tidal waves in Natori city, Japan, March 11, 2011, after strong earthquakes hit the area.   (AP Photo/Yasushi Kanno, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Tsunami swirls near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
Tsunami swirls near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, a tsunami surge sweeps water under a highway in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan March 11, 2011.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, a tsunami surge sweeps water under a highway in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan March 11, 2011.   (AP PHOTO/NHK TV)
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV,  a wave from the tsunami sweeps boats inland in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, a wave from the tsunami sweeps boats inland in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.   (AP PHOTO/NHK TV)
A port is submerged after a tsunami spawned by a powerful earthquake in Oarai town, Ibaraki prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.
A port is submerged after a tsunami spawned by a powerful earthquake in Oarai town, Ibaraki prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport in northern Japan on Friday March 11, 2022.
Light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport in northern Japan on Friday March 11, 2022.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
People seek refuge on the rooftop of a building as light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport.
People seek refuge on the rooftop of a building as light planes and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept by a tsumani that struck Sendai airport.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV,  a wave from the tsunami  heads to the coast in Miyagi Prefecture on the north east coast of Japan Friday March 11, 2011.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, a wave from the tsunami heads to the coast in Miyagi Prefecture on the north east coast of Japan Friday March 11, 2011.   (AP PHOTO/NHK TV)
Waves of tsunami hit residences after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.
Waves of tsunami hit residences after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Houses, cars and other debris are washed away by tsunami tidal waves in Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday, March 11, 2011.
Houses, cars and other debris are washed away by tsunami tidal waves in Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Keichi Nakane, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Cars and other Debris swept away by tsunami tidal waves are seen in Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday, March 11, 2011.
Cars and other Debris swept away by tsunami tidal waves are seen in Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Keichi Nakane, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
People evacuated to a rooftop of a building look at other buildings damaged by tsunami tidal waves at a port in  Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday, March 11, 2011.
People evacuated to a rooftop of a building look at other buildings damaged by tsunami tidal waves at a port in Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, after strong earthquakes hit the area Friday,...   (AP Photo/Keichi Nakane, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
A truck remains stranded on a road damaged by a powerful earthquake in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.
A truck remains stranded on a road damaged by a powerful earthquake in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, cars are washed away in a coastal area of Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, cars are washed away in a coastal area of Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.   (AP PHOTO/NHK TV)
Black smoke rises from a building in Tokyo's Odaiba bay area after strong earthquakes hit Japan Friday, March 11, 2011.
Black smoke rises from a building in Tokyo's Odaiba bay area after strong earthquakes hit Japan Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Yasushi Kanno, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Part of houses swallowed by tsunami burn in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
Part of houses swallowed by tsunami burn in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Flames rise from houses and debris half submerged in tsunami in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.
Flames rise from houses and debris half submerged in tsunami in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (state) after Japan was struck by a strong earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Residents walk through the rubles of residents collapsed by a powerful earthquake in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.
Residents walk through the rubles of residents collapsed by a powerful earthquake in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
A tsunami tidal wave washes away houses in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 11, 2011 after strong earthquakes hit the area.
A tsunami tidal wave washes away houses in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 11, 2011 after strong earthquakes hit the area.   (AP Photo/Keichi Nakane, The Yomiuri Shimbun)
Parts of a beer factory's facilities are collapsed as the employees gather on the rooftops after a powerful earthquake in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.
Parts of a beer factory's facilities are collapsed as the employees gather on the rooftops after a powerful earthquake in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, an oil refinery burns in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.
In this video image taken from Japan's NHK TV, an oil refinery burns in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture Japan Friday March 11, 2011 following a massive earth quake.   (AP PHOTO/NHK TV)
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