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Over 1,000 feared dead as earthquake, tsunami hit Japan (WRAPUP)

Over 1,000 people are feared dead, and hundreds are missing after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on Friday, causing a tsunami.

Over 1,000 people are feared dead, and hundreds are missing after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on Friday, causing a tsunami.

The 8.9-magnitude quake that struck about 373 km (232 miles) from the capital, Tokyo, sparked a tsunami that hit the Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, sweeping away houses and cars.

A further tsunami more than 7.3 meters high hit the Soma port in the Fukushima Prefecture, and another more than four meters high hit the ports of Kamaishi and Miyako in the Iwate Prefecture.

The NHK TV showed footage of waves sweeping away buildings and vehicles as far as 1.5 km inland. Airports were closed down and train services suspended. More than 4 million homes are without power.

Oil facilities could be seen burning in wide areas of the Pacific coast.

Between 200 and 300 bodies have been found on the coast of the Japan's northeastern city of Sendai and a ship with some 100 people on board was washed away, the Kyodo news agency reported.

More earthquakes measuring over 7.0 on the Richter scale could occur in and around Japan within a month, the Meteorological Agency said.

The quake is the strongest to hit Japan in 78 years, the head of the Russian Hydrometeorological Center, Alexander Frolov, said in an interview with Russia's Rossiya 24 TV channel.

Nuclear threat

Increased radiation levels were registered at the Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan. Some 2,000 people living nearby were told to evacuate.

The radiation rise was registered in the turbine hall of the plant's first atomic reactor. The plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co, was shut down earlier on Friday.

Several nuclear plants elsewhere along the coast were also partially shut down, with no reports of leakage.

Kyodo also reported explosions at two major Nissan factories and a fire in a turbine building at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in the Miyagi prefecture. There was also a fire at an oil refinery in Ichihara city in the Chiba prefecture near Tokyo.

Russians missing

Russia's Federal Tourism Agency reported on Friday that 10 Russians were missing in Japan.

The tourists were part of a group of 18 travelling with the Vand International travel company.

More than 11,000 people were evacuated from Russia's Kuril Islands, which lie to the north of Japan. Waves up to three meters high triggered by the earthquake hit Shikotan island and other islands in the Kuril chain were hit by waves of up to two meters.

Waves reach Hawaii

A tsunami caused by the earthquake has reached the U.S. state of Hawaii, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported.

A 65 cm wave hit the island of Kauai, which has a population of about 50,000 people. The Hawaiian authorities have evacuated residents and tourists ahead of further waves, expected to reach around two meters.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has declared a state of emergency and ordered residents of the Galapagos Islands to be evacuated.

At least 19 countries and Pacific islands have issued tsunami warnings.

MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) 

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