The largest recorded earthquake in Japan's recorded history struck on 11 March 2011 at 05:46:24 UTC/ 14:46 local time (March 10 2011 21:46:24 PST/). The quake struck about 130 kilometers off the coastal city of Sendai, generating a massive tsunami wave that tore into the surrounding coastal region. A series of strong fore and aftershocks have also been hitting the region with numerous 5.0 and 6.0 earthquakes occuring since the main quake (see: USGS 7 day record).
At the time of this post I am getting information that around 100 people are believed dead and scores are missing. Given the magnitude of this event it is likely these numbers will rise. A tsunami warning was posted for much of the pacific basin, including the entire Pacific coast of North and South America from Chili up to Alaska. In the eastern Pacific those warnings have now been lifted for some areas such as Taiwan, and Australia.
Earthquakes are common in Japan due to its position near a series of highly active tectonic plate boundaries.
Tsunami tearing into Sendai
Whirlpool forms near a port in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture
Fire and explosions rock the Cosmo oil and gas refinery north of Tokyo.
Vídeo taken by a Japanese family in Sendai as the earthquake hits. Just as a note: DON'T RUN OUTSIDE WHEN THERE IS AN EARTHQUAKE. Find a table, a doorway, a bathtub, etc. and hunker down. This goes against our basic survival instincts, but running outside, especially in an urban environment can expose you to falling glass or other debris.
Excellent video covereage by Tokyo Broadcasting System Live News Feed. (Japanese Language)