Thought to be the biggest earthquake to hit Japan in the last 140 years, the 8.9 magnitude quake that hit northeast Japan on Friday, has snarled air travel as flights are being canceled and delayed while some major airports of the country have been shut.

All flights to Tokyo from the UK have been canceled and Hong Kong flights to Japan's Haneda and Narita airports have been delayed.

According to Japan's Kyodo news agency, Narita Airport, the main international gateway into Japan, and Sendai Airport have been closed following the quake that triggered many injuries, fires and a 10-metre tsunami that swept away everything in its path, including houses, ships, cars and farm buildings on fire, Reuters reported.

The Japanese authorities have issued a warning for people and visitors to stay away from low-lying coastal areas.

A tsunami warning has been issued for the entire Pacific basin except for the mainland United States and Canada, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.