TOKYO — A ship carrying about 100 people was swept away by the huge tsunami that hit Japan on Friday and its fate was unknown, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing Miyagi prefecture police.


The ship was owned by a shipbuilder in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, said Kyodo News.

No further information was immediately available from Japanese media or prefectural police which AFP reached by telephone.

Friday's massive quake struck just under 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo, creating a 10-metre (33 feet) tsunami wave that hit the Pacific coast of Honshu island near Sendai city.

The monster wave wreaked vast destruction, smashing ships into towns and tearing away entire houses.

Television footage shot from a helicopter showed a large whirlpool offshore created by the tsunami that tossed around ships.

The quake was the largest ever to hit Japan, the fifth strongest tremor worldwide since 1900 and the seventh strongest in history, according to the US Geological Survey and Japanese seismologists.