About 50,000 military and other rescue personnel were spearheading a Herculean rescue and recovery effort with hundreds of ships, aircraft and vehicles headed to the Pacific coast area.
Army helicopters airlifted people off the roof of an elementary school in Watari, Miyagi Prefecture.
In quake-hit areas, 5.6 million households had no power yesterday and more than 1 million households were without water. Telecommunications networks were also hit.
The quake, which hit at 2:46pm and lasted about two minutes, rattled buildings in greater Tokyo, the world’s largest urban area and home to about 30 million people.
More than 24 hours after the first, massive quake struck about 400km northeast of Tokyo, aftershocks were still rattling the region, including a strong magnitude 6.8 tremor yesterday.
The US Geological Survey said more than 100 aftershocks had hit the area.