Japan says quake impact on economy ‘considerable’

Japan’s government said Sunday it expects a "considerable" economic impact from a huge earthquake and tsunami that plunged the nation into what the prime minister called its worst crisis since the Second World War.

Economists say it is still too early to assess the full cost of the destruction from the record 8.9-magnitude quake and the 10-metre wall of water that laid waste to the northeastern coast and triggered an atomic emergency.

The official death toll so far is 1,200, but is certain to rise substantially, with one hard-hit prefecture saying as many as 10,000 could be dead.

"The quake is expected to have considerable impact on a wide range of our country’s economic activities," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

Leading risk analysis firm AIR Worldwide said the quake alone would exact an economic toll estimated at between $14.5 billion and $34.6 billion, without taking into account the effects of the tsunami.

The Bank of Japan plans to pump "massive" funds into markets on Monday in a bid to help them stabilise following the linked disasters, Dow Jones Newswires said late Sunday.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index is meanwhile expected to tumble, with the index possibly breaking the psychologically important 10,000 level.

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