LONDON—Global companies in industries ranging from cars to technology started trying to assess the impact of the giant earthquake in Japan as operations were disrupted.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck northern Japan, causing deaths and damage to the northeast and panic as far south as Tokyo, with an ensuing tsunami devastating coastal areas.

Truck maker Volvo AB was among those worst hit as its main facility in Japan was forced to halt production. The Swedish company said damage to its UD Trucks facilities in Ageo in the southeast of Japan, seems to be mainly superficial, but it will be days before the company can do a full assessment.

Volvo employs 10,000 people in Japan, while a further 3,000 work at UD Trucks’ dealerships. Volvo said the dealership at Sendai, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, had been seriously damaged, and it couldn’t yet say how other dealerships had been affected.

Daimler AG said its Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. facility in Kawasaki had been slightly damaged, but production at both its facilities in Japan was continuing. It employs 12,836 staff in Japan, all of whom were unhurt.

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