UPDATE (March 12): For more recent photos, see Japan Tsunami Pictures: Nuclear Reactor and Cities Burn >>
Houses burn amid flood waters on Friday after a massive magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a powerful tsunami. Hundreds are dead, thousands are stranded, and a handful of ships and trains remain missing along the country's northeastern coast, according to the Los Angeles Times. (Get tsunami facts.)
The earthquake—the strongest in Japan in 140 years—struck 81 miles (130 kilometers) off the coast of Sendai at 2:46 p.m. local time, the LA Times reported. (See a Japan map.) A port city of about a million residents, Sendai was hit by tsunami waves up to 33 feet (10 meters) high. Tsunami warnings were quickly issued for many Pacific Coast regions, including Hawaii, the Philippines, and Mexico. (See tsunami pictures.)
The earthquake and its aftershocks were felt as far away as Tokyo, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the epicenter.
"I thought I was going to die when it hit," Megumi Ishii, 26, told the LA Times from Tokyo. "At first it didn't shake that much. But then the shaking got more violent and everyone in my office got under their desks. The ceiling tiles came off and some things fell off shelves."
(Related: Could Seattle suffer a similar earthquake? Find out on Mega Quake, airing Sunday, March 13, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel in the U.S.)