UPDATE 3-USGS upgrades Japan quake to 8.9 magnitude

Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:45am EST

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(Adds details on aftershocks)

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Geological Survey upgraded to 8.9 the magnitude of the major earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday.

The USGS said the massive quake struck off-shore 81 miles (130 km) east of Sendai in Honshu at a depth of 15.2 miles (24 km).

The USGS initially reported a 7.9 quake and later upgraded the magnitude to 8.8 and then to 8.9.

The earthquake caused many injuries, fires and a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline that swept away houses, cars and boats, media and witnesses said.

There were several strong aftershocks and a warning of a 33-foot (10-meter) tsunami following the quake, which also caused buildings to shake violently in the capital Tokyo.

The USGS reported eight strong aftershocks, including a 6.8 quake on the mainland 41 miles (66 kms) northeast of Tokyo. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle)

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