msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/11/2011 7:47:53 PM ET 2011-03-12T00:47:53

A ship that was swept away by the tsunami on Japan's northeastern coast was found and all 81 aboard were airlifted to safety, the AFP news agency reported Friday, citing Japanese news reports.

A Japanese coast guard official had said a search was under way for the ship carrying dock workers that was swept away when a tsunami struck the northeastern coast.

The vessel was washed away from a shipbuilding site in Miyagi prefecture (state), the area most affected by a massive offshore earthquake on Friday. The quake triggered the tsunami.

Japanese naval and coast guard helicopters located the ship and rescued those on board, AFP said, citing the Jiji news agency.

Citing Miyagi police, Kyodo News had reported that 100 were on board.

Four trains running in a coastal area of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures remained unaccounted for after the tsunami hit.

It was not known how many people were aboard the trains.

Another train on the Senseki Line was found derailed near Nobiru Station after the quake. No information was available about the fate of the passengers and crew on the train.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Northern Japan engulfed in destruction

  1. Closed captioning of: Northern Japan engulfed in destruction

    >>> good evening. the nation of japan has suffered a clausal historic earthquake that has caused massive damage , massive loss of life and sent ocean waters racing over land. the earthquake was 8.9 and struck at 2:46 p.m ., centered 78 miles offshore. while tokyo swayed and shook and bounced for minutes on end, sending millions to shelter, sendai was the closest population center and it's been devastated. the loss of life officially so far in the hundreds will almost certainly be in the thousands as thousands are missing. the quake then triggered a tsunami, water upwards of 30 feet high that swamped the japanese shoreline, moving faster than people or cars could outrun it. then it headed out east across the pacific ocean , traveling at times at the speed of a jet airliner . the original quake was big enough to move the largest island of japan eight feet further to the east. the aftershocks haven't stopped. a second big quake struck on land late today u.s. time. the veteran cnbc tokyo bureau chief begins our coverage tonight. good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. japan is waking up to a morning saturday here like no other. the citizens of this country have long been accustomed to earthquakes, but what they saw 18 hours ago as this massive earthquake struck was like nothing they have seen before. the quake hit at 2:46 in the afternoon tokyo time, in the middle of what witnesses called a beautiful, calm day. terrified business workers scrambled to safety when the tremors hit. debris and office equipment falling everywhere. in the streets, chaos, as residents tried to dodge bricks and glass crashing to the ground. japan is no stranger to earthquakes. with reinforced building designs like nowhere else in the world, but this one was a monster, measuring a magnitude of 8.9, one of the strongest in the country's history. an american university professor in tokyo on business told us the tremors were relentless.

    >> the shaking got worse and worse. i don't know exactly how long it lasted. it seemed like it went on forever.

    >> reporter: the country's prime minister immediately activated an emergency response plan. after the shaking came the warning, and the wave, a chilling preview of the disaster to come. the target, the city of sendai , some 200 miles northeast of tokyo . hundreds are reported missing there. an unbelievable sight, the force of the swirling water sucking boats into its center. reports of at least one vessel missing with 100 people aboard. the tsunami hit with incredible force. the sludge sweeping away everything in its path. this wall of water and mud, some 30 feet high, washed across the low-lying coastal areas. entire towns swept away . thick and brown, strewn with debris. fast-moving, farmlands quickly disappeared. entire major roads, bridges and homes, gone in a matter of minutes. [ speaking foreign language ]

    >> the airport at sendai was completely destroyed. workers and others scrambled onto rooftops trying to stay above the mud. a huge fire at an oil refinery near tokyo continues to burn. at least 80 other massive fires are still burning along the coastline after the quake cut off gas lines, causing a series of explosions, leaving homes and businesses ablaze. power is out throughout parts of the country, and mass transit is down. in some places trains derailed. tonight, evacuations are under way for miles around this nuclear power plant in fukushima. officials say the cooling system failed during the jolt. authorities now say that radiation levels have surged outside the plant. with daybreak here, the search for dead and injured of this disaster is just beginning. not to mention the cleanup which will likely take months, if not years. although most of the public transportation here in the capital, tokyo , has resumed this morning, transportation communication to the northeast region has been sporadic. public broadcaster nhk reporting at least more than a thousand people have been either dead or missing, and the toll continues to mount. brian.

    >> and again what is an otherwise beautiful saturday morning across

Photos: After Japan's earthquake and tsunami - week 8

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  1. A radiation measuring instrument is seen next to some residents in Kawauchimura, a village within the 12- to 18-mile zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, on April 28. Most residents of Kawauchimura have evacuated in order to avoid the radiation, but some remain in the area of their own accord. (Koichi Kamoshida / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A brazier heats the house of Masahiro Kazami, located within a 12-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, April 28. (Koichi Kamoshida / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Volunteers help clean a cemetery at Jionin temple in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, on April 29. Many volunteers poured into the disaster-hit region at the beginning of the annual Golden Week holiday. (Hiro Komae / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Japanese government adviser Toshiso Kosako is overcome with emotion during a news conference on April 29 in Tokyo announcing his resignation. The expert on radiation exposure said he could not stay on the job and allow the government to set what he called improper radiation limits for elementary schools in areas near the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Fuel rods are seen inside the spent fuel pool of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reactor 4 on April 30. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A volunteer girl from Tokyo works to clean the debris of a house in Higashimatsushima, northern Japan, on April 30. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Farmer Tsugio Sato tends to his Japanese pear trees in Fukushima city, May 1. He said he expects to harvest the pears in October. Farmers and businesses face so-called "fuhyo higai," or damages stemming from the battered reputation of the Fukushima brand. (Hiro Komae / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Members of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in protective gear receive radiation screening in Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture, after searching for bodies at an area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Ruriko Sakuma, daughter of dairy farmer Shinji Sakuma, rubs a cow at their farm in the village of Katsurao in Fukushima prefecture on May 3. Thousands of farm animals died of hunger in the weeks following the quake. (Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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Map: Japan earthquake

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