"The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.
Hiroshi Sato, a disaster management official in northern Iwate prefecture, said officials were having trouble getting an overall picture of the destruction.
"We don't even know the extent of damage. Roads were badly damaged and cut off as tsunami washed away debris, cars and many other things," he said.
Mazda’s headquarters and assembly plants in Hiroshima are located about 1,000 km South-West of the affected area and, although the quake was felt there, no damage has been reported. The Japanese automaker ensures that nobody was injured and, as no work-stoppage is necessary, the next shift will proceed as planned.
“Although we speculate there will be some damage to dealerships north of Tokyo,” said Jeff Guyton, President and CEO of Mazda Motor Europe, “Mazda facilities and people, so far as we know at this moment, are safe. Our thoughts go out to everyone in the affected areas and we hope that help comes quickly and the damage is limited.”
Japan's worst previous quake was in 1923 in Kanto, an 8.3-magnitude one that killed 143,000 people, according to USGS. A 7.2-magnitude quake in Kobe city in 1996 killed 6,400 people.