Thousands Flee as Earthquake Sparks Japan Tsunami Alert
Byline: VALENTINE LOW
THOUSANDS of people fled a tsunami heading for northern Japan today.
Warnings were broadcast on all TV channels and radio stations ordering people to move to higher ground.
Water levels along the coast dropped - triggering memories of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 which killed at least 230,000 people.
The alert was sounded after an earthquake in the Pacific was reported measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale.
Anything of magnitude seven and above is classified as a major earthquake capable of widespread damage.
A wave 6ft high was predicted to hit the northernmost islands of Hokkaido and Honshu.
First reports said that it was just 16ins high when it struck the coast at 12.29 British time.
Japan's Meteorological Agency warned, however, that larger waves could follow.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was 275 miles east of the Kuril Islands at a depth of 17.2 miles.
Russian officials confirmed that a powerful earthquake had struck the area but said there was no immediate word of damage or casualties. …