TOKYO, Japan – An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan early Friday, triggering tsunami warnings and sending people fleeing out of buildings in the capital.
Its epicenter was 373 kilometers (231 miles) from Tokyo, the United States Geological Survey said.
The quake rattled buildings and toppled cars off bridges and into waters underneath. In Tokyo, crowds gathered in the streets and tried to reach relatives via cell phone.
Scenes inside office buildings showed papers strewn all over the floor and people clinging onto seats and desks.
Such a large earthquake at such a shallow depth creates a lot of energy, said Shenza Chen of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Other reports are claiming that a video from national broadcaster NHK showed dozens of cars, large ferries and some buildings being swept out to sea in the port city of Kamaishi in the province of Iwai.
A tsunami in the Pacific was moving closer to other shorelines in other countries. According to the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a tsunami warning was also in effect for Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. It said a tsunami watch was issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii.
“Earthquakes of this size are known to generate tsunamis potentially dangerous to coasts outside the source region,” it said.
“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter.”
The quake was the latest in a series in the region this week.
Early Thursday, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck off the coast of Honshu.
A day earlier, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off of Honshu, the country’s meteorological agency said.
The Wednesday quake lasted as long as three minutes, but did not cause significant damage. It could be felt in Tokyo, 267 miles (429 kilometers) southwest of its epicenter.