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Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching around the Pacific where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur, including the one that triggered the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people in 12 nations. A magnitude-8.8 temblor that shook central Chile in February 2010 also generated a tsunami and killed 524 people.

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Associated Press writers Jay Alabaster, Mari Yamaguchi, Tomoko A. Hosaka and Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo; Jaymes Song in Honolulu and Mark Niesse in Ewa Beach, Hawaii; Seth Borenstein and Julie Pace in Washington, and Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans contributed to this report.