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SENDAI, Japan (AP) - Huge earthquakes rocked northeastern Japan on Saturday, a day after a giant temblor set off a powerful tsunami that killed hundreds of people, turned the coast into a swampy wasteland and left two nuclear reactors dangerously close to meltdown.
The United States Geological Survey said a strong earthquake struck just before noon in the sea in virtually the same place where the magnitude 8.9 quake on Friday unleashed one of the greatest disasters Japan has witnessed - a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami that washed far inland over fields and smashed towns.
Saturday's magnitude 6.8 quake was followed by a series of temblors originating from the same area, the USGS said. It was not immediately known whether the new quakes caused any more damage. All were part of the more than 125 aftershocks since Friday's massive quake, the strongest to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s.
It ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, scientists said.
The official death toll stood at 413, while 784 people were missing and 1,128 injured. In addition, police said between 200 and 300 bodies were found along the coast in Sendai, the biggest city in the area of the quake's epicenter. An untold number of bodies were also believed to be lying in the rubble and debris. Rescue workers had yet to reach the hardest-hit areas.
"The flood came in from behind the store and swept around both sides. Cars were flowing right by," said Wakio Fushima, who owns a convenience store in this northern coastal city of 1.02 million people, 80 miles (125 kilometers) from the quake's epicenter.
- The Associated Press
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