Hundreds have already been confirmed dead, following the earthquake that struck Japan. The quake measured an 8.9 on the Richter scale. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Seismic activity continued in Japan, where the strongest earthquake to hit the country in at least 300 years rocked its eastern coast on Friday afternoon, triggering a 10-meter (30-foot) tsunami that engulfed cars and buildings in its path in northern Japan, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and setting off tsunami warnings for 53 countries around the world.

Police say 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the city of Sendai, the closest major city to the quake's epicenter, wire reports said. According to NHK, the national broadcaster, 150 were confirmed dead and 550 people were missing nationwide as of 3:23 am local time.

The quake, one of the five strongest ever measured, with a magnitude of 8.9, inflicted particularly severe damage to areas facing the northern Pacific coast but also caused mass panic around Tokyo, where workers evacuated buildings and power was cut off in 4.1 million households in and around the city.

The president offered American assistance to Japan, the Los Angeles Times reports:

President Obama on Friday offered earthquake-ravaged Japanany assistance needed to cope with the massive 8.9 temblor that has devastated the Asian nation, including technical aid to cope with a damaged nuclear power plant that has led to the evacuation of thousands for fear of a radiation leakage.

U.S. Air Force planes have already delivered coolant to the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced.

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