Magnitude 8.4 ~ 8.9 (reports vary).
Major casualty event in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures.
Here, about 100 km away from the area directly effected, it was a heck of a ride.
Kudos to the fine gentleman and his craftsmen that built this house; not a whit of damage even at Japanese Intensity 5 shaking.
Rail and airports are shut down or on very limited availability throughout east and northeast Japan.
Substantial, and occasional Major aftershocks continue.
The coast took an enormous Tsunami. Wave height reported to be 7+ meters in Sendai port and as high as 10 meters in a few places.
For English language reports, I recommend FOXNews (carrying the AP, which gets Kyoudou as their source) and the impeccable BBC, which is running live feeds from NHK World and has a very good reporter based in Toukyou.
FOXNews report as of now.
BBC report, with links to their live feed.
Also, here is the Japan Met Service Earthquake Information page for this event. From that page, go to 'next information' to see each of the aftershocks.
For your convenience, here is a list of the effects of the JMA seismic intensity scale. You can see there what I meant about how it went here... upper 5... and get a sense of how bad it was in the hard-hit regions ...they caught a full 7.
The aftermath of this is going to be pretty ugly. Presume a large number of people are now without shelter in a part of the country famous for late winter snow. Worse for the folks on the coast up there, who may have nothing left... if they survived. But amazingly, no reports of deaths have come in, yet.
Hope that holds. Bets are it won't.
Update: 0049hrs 'blogtime
Three dead reported by AFP.
BBC has one dead in Toukyou (Tokyo).
Update 2: 0113hrs 'blogtime
AFP now has it at 19 dead.
Update 3: 0155hrs 'blogtime
NHK has it at 20 dead... with "many many more" missing.
The fire being constantly shown on the news re-cycle is a refinery in Chiba Prefecture... which is far south of here. It is about as far away from the quake as Toukyou is... ~250 km from epicenter. But earthquake damage is a funny thing. cf. 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake destroying much of San Francisco's Marina District and dropping a span of the Bay Bridge, neither particularly close to the epicenter.
Japan Met has made an official revision to the magnitude: 8.8 , which would be an all-time high.
The focus is now shifting: Presuming no parallel earthquakes or massive aftershocks, the danger of more damage here is fading... but look out across the Pacific. Tsunami velocities are hard to judge but a reasonable expectation would be a major tsunami threat to Hawaii in the 7~9 hours post-quake time frame, and the same to the west coast of the U.S. Lower 48 starting around the 9 hour mark in the Northwest and proceeding from there. Philippines, the South Pacific and points south, Russia's Kuriles, Sakhalin, Kamchatka and points north and east of there (like Alaska), *all* these places can presume to be under tsunami threat in even less time than that. Having a 20+ foot high wall of water coming one's way should be enough to fix the attention on getting people the heck out of risk zones. Philippines is taking action as best they can already. Here's hoping the other governments are taking action as well.
Update 4: 0237hrs 'blogtime
The AP has 32 confirmed dead so far.
While searching for reports on any injuries to personnel, or equipment loss, at Misawa Air Base... I find that Stars and Stripes has an entirely respectable overview of earthquake effects on US Forces Japan. Short Form: all personnel accounted for; impact on operational capacity negligible.
Update 5: 0606hrs 'blogtime (2306hrs JST)
Now the scary reports start to come in...
Official reports (various) sum up to about 90 dead so far.
unconfirmed or partial reports...
...have a ship at sea with ~100 aboard unaccounted for.
...have 200~300 bodies on the coastline near Sendai.
...state a train that ran on a coastal rail line remains unaccounted for.
...one of the nuclar power stations in Fukushima didn't go into shutdown normally; it had to be brought down hard when a cooling system failed.
Update 6: 1623 hrs 'blogtime (0923 hrs Sat, JST)
Rescue and recovery operations are underway.
The toll rises; reports have the confirmed deaths over 350 and the missing at over 700.
Rail and cell phone service is spotty at best in the east of the country, and still non-functional up in the disaster zone. The peripheral problem of getting commuters home from Toukyou is rapidly becoming significant... anyone trying to get back home by train to the towns north and northeast of Toukyou metropolitan area is basically still camped out in the stations. Highway and surface roads are overcrowded so doing an overland extraction is still not reasonable, but if the rails don't get reopened soon, organizing bus convoying may have to be the answer.
There is a lot of noise about the BWR reactors at the atomic power stations in Fukushima in some trouble maintaining cooling systems. They are still trying to use the secondary systems, but the emergency cooling systems for all the reactors in question are on standby and ready to be used if core temperatures get anywhere near dangerous levels.
Electricity and water/sanitation interruptions (and shortly food distribution) are all significant threats to the population in the disaster area. Road and Rail bridges are all suspect at this time as well.
The state of emergency has allowed the government to activate Defense Force resources and large numbers of helicopters, cargo aircraft and other assets are now deploying. Allied forces from USFJ (Americans) are also being made available including a second carrier on the way from the U.S.A. that will add even more secure flat space and aviation capability to help.
Update 7: very early Saturday (Saturday evening JST)
That comment above about food distribution is coming to pass far more quickly than... it should, frankly. But modern distribution systems for retail food and high-use materials like gasoline have very little stockpile buffer, at least here. So, your Saturday trip to the shopping mall went something like this... even down here in Tochigi which is well outside the zone of serious damage... by noon, there was no bread, dry soup or noodles on the shelves. Other sections were a mixed bag of plenty and of suspicious absence. So you buy what you can/want and head over to fuel up the family car... hope you weren't too low or heaven-forbid actually use the car for work... *if* the gas stand had any fuel to sell, they were limiting sales to cash-price 2000 en per customer. That buys about 13 liters (3 gallons and a bit)at today's also significantly higher price.
Now this is actually all explainable if you consider the level of disruption, the astounding level of shock in ordinary people over the earthquake, and the utterly cynical hoarding instinct that people here have relied upon since ancient times to signal their conscious mind in times of shortage to go buy everything they can lay their hands on that they think they might need. cf. the origin of Shinjuku as a commercial center in the post-WWII years as the premier black market during the Occupation.
But enough with the rationalizing and back to the rationing. Here's the situation: the media is spreading advice from authorities that fuel and even food distribution will likely be very limited all across eastern Japan *for a week or more*. This, in the basically untouched inland area of the Kantou region. Just imagine what it must be like for folks up in the area of effect.