World Vision on standby after earthquake and tsunami hit Japan

The earthquake was the largest in Japan's history and powerful enough to shake buildings in Tokyo some 250 miles away.

A 10-metre high tsunami triggered by the earthquake has caused widespread damage, sweeping away cars, trucks, buildings and crops.

Police estimate the number of bodies found in the port city of Sendai at 200 to 300. It is feared the total death toll could reach 1,000.

A state of emergency has been declared in Japan and a tsunami warning has been extended to most of the Pacific basin. A tsunami watch has been issued for the entire western coast of the US and Canada.

World Vision Japan said it was assessing the scale of the damage and considering its response.

“We would like to express our sincere sympathy to the victims of this earthquake,” the organisation said in a statement.

Geoff Shepherd, World Vision's Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director for the Asia-Pacific region said the organisation's offices in Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands were "on alert".

"This could be a very serious disaster in multiple countries and our staff are prepared to respond," he said.

In London, World Vision spokesperson Dominic Nutt said the organisation's teams in the Philippines were already working with the authorities and that supplies had been put in place to support up to 2,000 people.