Early assessments suggest the quake to have been the largest in the country's recorded history, and related tsunamis have caused widespread destruction in low lying coastal areas, particularly those nearest the epicenter in the city of Sendai.
Japan is home to many companies in the imaging field, and the first reports are starting to come in detailing the safety of each company's staff, as well as initial evaluations of the impact on their facilities and production. In the hours since the quake first struck, the UK's Amateur Photographer magazine has published statements from Canon Inc. and Panasonic Corp., as well as brief updates from the European offices of Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, and Sony.
Canon's statement confirms that twelve of its employees at a lens factory in Utsunomiya suffered minor injuries, and that production has ceased at certain of its facilities due to power failures. The company goes on to say that none of its buildings or factories have suffered major damage.
Panasonic, meanwhile, states that a few employees received minor injuries at a Fukushima factory which produces Lumix digital cameras, as well as at factories for Panasonic AVC Networks in Sendai (said by Reuters to manufacture lenses), and Panasonic Electric Works in Koriyama. Although there was said to have been some damage to the wall and ceiling of at least one of these locations, there was thankfully no collapse or fire, according to the Panasonic statement.
While Nikon UK is said to still be awaiting information from Japan, Amateur Photographer has been told that there haven't yet been any reports of employee injuries, nor of the company's facilities being significantly affected.
Olympus UK is likewise said to have reported that it believes its production lines in Japan have not been affected.
Pentax UK, meanwhile, is said not to have received any reports of damage as yet, but is awaiting information from its Japanese headquarters.
While we've not heard anything related to camera production facilities for Sony, Reuters reports that six of the company's factories in Fukushima and Miyagi have been affected, with production shut down and most employees evacuated. Around 1,000 Sony employees have taken shelter on the second floor of a flooded chemical products factory in Miyagi, while the other facilities are said to produce semiconductors, batteries, optical film, and other parts.
Any updates we receive from Japan's imaging companies will be added to this item as the day goes on, and readers wanting to obtain information relating to general impact or other industries can find coverage courtesy of Google News. Those seeking information on specific individuals can find assistance from Google's Person Finder, while more general information on emergency contacts, blackouts, etc. can be found on Google's Crisis Response page. Reuters has further information on how readers can offer their help in the recovery effort.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this major disaster in their time of need.