Cars, ships and buildings were swept away by a wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude tremor, which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.
A state of emergency has been declared at a nuclear power plant, where pressure has exceeded normal levels.
Officials say 350 people are dead and about 500 missing, but it is feared the final death toll will be much higher.
In one ward alone in Sendai, a port city in Miyagi prefecture, 200 to 300 bodies were found.
In the centre of Tokyo many people are spending the night in their offices. But thousands, perhaps millions, chose to walk home. Train services were suspended.
Even after the most violent earthquake anyone could remember the crowds were orderly and calm. The devastation is further to the north, along the Pacific coast.
There a tsunami triggered by the quake reached 10km (six miles) inland in places carrying houses, buildings, boats and cars with it. In the city of Sendai the police found up to 300 bodies in a single ward. Outside the city in a built-up area a fire blazed across several kilometres.
Japan's ground self-defence forces have been deployed, and the government has asked the US military based in the country for help. The scale of destruction from the biggest quake ever recorded in Japan will become clear only at first light.
The quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, said scientists.
Roland Buerk BBC News, Tokyo Continue reading the main story
Johnstown Flood National Memorial,
As we await news on the effects of the latest natural disaster to strike Japan, Hawaii, and the U.S. West Coast, we draw attention to a national park site in Pennsylvania that commemorates one of the deadliest disasters in U.S. history. Johnstown Flood National Memorial marks the site where the South Fork Dam failed and Lake Conemaugh emptied into Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1889.
The official death toll stands at 2,209, but the actual number of people who died as a result of the disaster remains unknown. Others were killed in the flood's aftermath, when large amounts of debris trapped by the nearby Stone Bridge caught fire.
If there's any silver lining, it's that the American Red Cross was born as a result of this flood, exercising its first peacetime disaster recovery effort in Johnstown. Clara Barton also rose up in response to lead a team that prepared meals, provided shelter, and distributed medical supplies to survivors. March is recognized as both American Red Cross and Women's History Month. The American Red Cross continues to provide relief over 100 years later.
We express our deep condolences to the people, communities, national parks, and Park Service personnel potentially at risk from the tragic earthquake and tsunamis.
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We left late, but Jay and I went into Conroe to get the lumber for making the permanent sunshades for two of the carports. The reed blinds just didn't hold up in the intense TX sun. We have to have something there to keep out the heat and sun.
We also stopped at some thrift shops, and each bought a few bargains. Among other things, I bought two pairs of shoes ( I know I almost rival Imelda Marcus, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imelda_Marcos), but they were comfy. My right foot was crushed during the bombing in the war, WWII that is, and I can't wear just any shoes. A pair of like-new beige Florsheim flats for $2.50, and some pretty floral canvas pumps for $3.00.
We made at a stop at Petsmart, to buy some more "Organics by Nature" Gluten-Free canned cat food for old Bobcat. ( Rumpy Manx, no tail)
Here she is in a very unladylike pose.
The Wellness (grain-free) cat food has been recalled due to not enough taurine, http://www.vetlord.org/taurine-is-essential-for-cats/. So I had bought some Nature food the other day, and I have a different cat.
It was as if she changed overnight. She started asking to go out on to the screen porch, and she no longer spends a lot of time in a dark corner of my linen closet. Now she is going into the living room and laying on the back of the recliner. These are places she hasn't wanted to go for a long time. She doesn't sit on my bed at night, pawing at my face to wake me up, she just goes to sleep quietly and stays still. That alone is worth it for me. Maybe she has celiac disease, and I never knew it.
Then I found this: "
"Reasons for Your Pets to Avoid Gluten"For all of the reasons stated, its probably a good practice to keep wheat gluten and carbohydrates away from you pet in favor of a "natural" diet rich in animal protein and fats and low in (or free of) carbohydrates. As specialty foods can be expensive, a list of readily available pet foods that are free of wheat gluten is provided below.
Avoid senior, light and diet foods, as they contain increased fiber and carbohydrates and reduced protein and fat, compared to adult maintenance diets. This is the opposite of what they really need, and this food has no scientific foundation. Older and overweight pets usually respond well to increased protein and fats gained through a diet rich in meat, not grains.
Another benefit of this approach is that many dogs on the dangerous non-steroidal and steroid drugs so commonly prescribed for dogs may see marked improvements in their conditions and, in fact, may no longer need such drugs, which tend to shorten dogs lives. Many owners who feed their pets fewer grains see less inflammation. "
More at: http://www.celiac.com/articles/1129/1/Gluten-and-Toxins-in-Pet-Foods-Are-they-Poisoning-Your-Pets-By-Jefferson-Adams/Page1.html
It is amazing that that little van of mine could carry the 10 foot long lumber that we needed by sliding it up all along the right side of the passenger seat, so Jay had to step over it to get in and out of the van.
The traffic was terrible on the southbound side of the freeway coming from Dallas.
Then I realized that the Houston Livestock Show was going on today.