Japan: Earthquake triggers oil refinery fire

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Ichihara City:  Fires triggered by a massive quake that hit Japan on Friday are burning out of control up and down the coast, including one at an oil refinery Ichinara City, Chiba prefecture.

Despite firefighters' efforts to douse the flames, fires were still raging at the Cosmo refinery in the early evening, lighting the sky and sending plumes of black smoke in the air as the inferno spread to the surrounding area.

In Fukushima Prefecture, several homes were also engulfed by flames.

Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency says at least 17 people have died in the quake and tsunami that hit the north.

The quake unleashed a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was a magnitude 8.9, while Japan's meteorological agency measured it at 8.8.

It struck at 2:46 p.m. and was followed by more than 20 aftershocks, including several at least 6.3, the size of the quake that struck New Zealand recently.

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