TOKYO, March 12, 2011 (AFP) - Japanese naval and coastguard helicopters have found a ship that was swept out to sea by a massive tsunami and airlifted all 81 people aboard to safety, Jiji Press reported Saturday.
The ship was owned by a shipbuilder in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture.
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 Friday 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.