Then, in the early hours of Saturday, the Associated Press and BBC News reported a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the central, mountainous part of the country - far from the original quake's epicenter.
It was not immediately clear if this latest quake was related to Friday's 8.9 quake centered near Sendai. As of 2:24 pm ET on Friday - BBC Reports "there have been no reports of damage so far from the new quake. There have been dozens of aftershocks following the main quake more than 13 hours ago, but this one is in a different location."
More on this as we get it.. BBC made the reference to AP.
NHK just reported that the new quake hit Japan's Niigata prefecture in the west of the main Honshu island at about 2PM Eastern Time on Friday. Niigata is a mountainous region.
Earlier today an 8.9 quake spawned a deadly tsunami in the Northern Japan killing an estimated 300+ people. The Japanese authorities are saying it is difficult to asses the damage now that it is night time in Japan.
Nonetheless, some reports from BBC New and the Associated Press have quotes from the US Geological Survey, "The 8.9-magnitude earthquake which struck Japan on Friday was the strongest in the area in nearly 1,200 years," says David Applegate, a senior science adviser. He says the quake ruptured a patch of the earth's crust 240km (150 miles) long and 80km (50 miles) across.
The clear scale of the disaster will not be assessed until morning. Just moments ago Kyodo News agency reported that no fresh tsunami alert has been issued after the latest quake.
Update: 3:07 PM ET - BBC reports "Pope Benedict XVI was 'deeply saddened by the brutal and tragic consequences of the severe earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern coastal regions' of Japan, a telegram sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on his behalf to Japan's Roman Catholic bishops says. The pope was praying for the dead and hoped that their families and friends would find 'strength and consolation', it adds."