TOKYO (AP) - A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakesever recorded slammed Japan's eastern coast Friday, killinghundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes whilewidespread fires burned out of control. Tsunami warnings blanketedthe entire Pacific, as far away as South America, Canada, Alaskaand the entire U.S. West Coast.
Police said 200 to 300 bodies have been found in thenortheastern coastal city of Sendai. Police said another 88 wereconfirmed killed and 349 were missing.
The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scaleof the disaster.
The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (7-meter)tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours,many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.
The government ordered thousands of residents near a nuclearpower plant in Onahama city to evacuate because the plant's systemwas unable to cool the reactor. The reactor was not leakingradiation but its core remained hot even after a shutdown. Theplant is 170 miles (270 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.
Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile(2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violenttremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles(kilometers) from the epicenter.
"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas innorthern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a newsconference.