Japan hit by Tsunami



Up to 19 people have been killed after a massive 8.9-magnitude quake hit northeast Japan, causing a four-metre tsunami along parts of the country's coastline.

Japan's NHK television reported many injuries and showed pictures of major tsunami damage in the north, with cars, trucks and houses being swept away in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture following the quake on Friday.

A tsunami has been issued for most of the Pacific region, and the wave set off by the Japan quake is currently higher than some Pacific islands which it could wash over, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

"Our biggest concern is the Asia and Pacific region, where developing countries are far more vulnerable to this type of
unfolding disaster. The tsunami is a major threat," Paul Conneally, spokesman for the Federation, the world's biggest
disaster relief network, told Reuters in Geneva.

"At the moment, it is higher than some islands and could go right over them," he said.

Three people were crushed to death when their houses collapsed in Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

The prime minister said in a televised address that the government was making "every effort possible" to minimise damage.

"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Naoto Kan said.

"Some of the nuclear power plant in the region have automatically shut down, but there is no leakage of radioactive materials to the environment."