Friday’s earthquake was the most powerful in Japan ever since earthquakes have been measured and studied in the country since the late 1800s.
Japan is used to earthquakes but this was by far its most horrific.
These are the scenes that followed:
* At least five were reported dead in Fukushima province, and many were feared buried in rubble after a hotel collapsed in northern city Sendai.
* Quake triggered tsunami up to 10 metres as waves swept across farmland, uprooting homes, crops, vehicles, triggering fires. A tsunami of 7 metres later hit northern Japan.
* Strong aftershocks hit northern Japan.
* Tsunami warnings were issued for countries including Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
* Power cut to four million homes in and around Tokyo. Fourteen fires blazed in Tokyo.
* Many sections of the Tohoku expressway serving northern Japan were damaged. Major fire reported at Chiba refinery near Tokyo.
* Bullet trains to the north of the country stopped. The government was to dispatch 900 rescue workers to stricken regions.
* Narita airport closed, flights halted, passengers evacuated. Tokyo underground, suburban trains halted. Sendai airport in the north flooded.
* All Japanese ports were closed and discharging operations halted, shippers report.
* Eight military planes scrambled to survey damage. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked people to remain calm and ordered the military to do their utmost to act. Cabinet convened. The government said more tsunamis possible.