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(LEAD) Powerful quake in Japan causes Tokyo-bound flight cancellations
SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- A powerful earthquake that struck off Japan's northeastern coast on Friday caused all flights bound for Japan to be canceled, the government said.

   The flight disruption came hours after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit Japan's Pacific coast, unleashing a tsunami that washed away cars and houses along the coastal areas.

   The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said that flight operations at Narita, Haneda and Sendai airports have been temporarily suspended, causing three South Korea airliners in the country to be grounded. It said two Korean Air passenger jets and one plane belonging to Asiana were grounded at Narita.

   "The planes have not been damaged, but they have been told to stay on the ground," it said. The ministry said that nine flights that were planned by South Korean flag carriers to Japan have been suspended until further notice.

   "Passengers that have booked flights should check schedules before going to the airport because conditions remain fluid," it said.

   The ministry said that it has set up an emergency situation room to carefully monitor developments in Japan and its impact on South Korea's transportation system.

   "Measures will be taken to respond quickly to any additional developments," it said.

   Authorities said that while the massive quake has caused severe damage in Japan its effect on South Korea was minimal and no tsunami warnings have been issued along the country's coastal areas.

   The quake's epicenter was on Japan's northeastern coast in the Pacific Ocean.

   "No planes, boats, roads and railways have been affected by the tremor," it said, although adding there is a need to maintain a high level of vigilance.