Dam breaks in northeast Japan, washes away homes

TOKYO, March 12, 2011 (AFP) -A dam in Japan's northeast Fukushima prefecture broke and homes were washed away, Kyodo news reported Saturday, after the biggest earthquake in the nation's history wreaked death and havoc.

The 8.9-magnitude quake -- the seventh biggest ever recorded -- generated a monster wall of water that pulverised everything in its path along parts of Japan's Northeast coast before surging inland.

The Sankei Shimbun reported that the Fujinuma irrigation dam in Sukagawa city, Fukushima, had collapsed, with homes washed away and people missing.

At least 310 people were killed in the massive earthquake and following tsunamis, police and press reports said.

In the northeastern city of Sendai police reportedly said that 200-300 bodies had been found on the coast.

The government declared an atomic power emergency as officials rushed to secure key nuclear facilities in the affected regions.

Hours after the quake struck with devastating force, TV images showed huge orange balls of flame rolling up into the night sky as fires raged around a petrochemical complex in Sendai.

A massive fire also engulfed an oil refinery in Iichihara near Tokyo.

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