Buildings burn following an 8.9 earthquake in Yamada, Japan on March 11, 2011

*The death toll from Japan’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake that triggered a devastating 30-foot tsunami could rise to more than 1,300, government officials said.

Most of the victims drowned, with about 200 to 300 bodies found along the water in Sendai, the closest major city to the quake’s epicenter off the coast of Honshu. The quake struck Friday at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time, and by Saturday morning, thousands of homes were destroyed and public transportation was down, as well as power and cellphones.

Although many lost their lives, countless other lives were saved by Japan’s disaster preparedness and strict construction codes, and the economy was largely spared because the earthquake struck far from Japan’s industrial heartland.

Rescuers are still struggling to search for people in the rubble-as well as three passenger trains that have gone missing-and thousands of people are stranded on rooftops throughout the coastal cities.

Read MORE at the NY Times.

Meanwhile, fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan have subsided after a reactor that was damaged in Friday’s devastating earthquake reportedly emerged intact from an explosion.

Television cameras captured the moment that smoke poured from what at first appeared to be one of four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, located 150 miles north of Tokyo.