The economic aftershocks from the massive earthquake off the coast of Japan, the resulting tsunami and a feared nuclear meltdown could hit global production of everything from aircraft to iPads.

Panic selling sent Tokyo shares down 10.55 per cent on worries the nuclear crisis would become a catastrophe on Tuesday, after radiation levels near a quake-stricken nuclear plant surged following explosions and a fire.

The Nikkei index closed off 1015.34 points at 8605.15.

With ports, airports, highways and manufacturing plants across Japan shut down, the government has predicted “considerable impact on a wide range of our country's economic activities.''

Singapore bank DBS estimated the quake and tsunami would cost Japan's economy $100 billion, equivalent to about 2 per cent of its gross domestic product.

The crisis has led to a huge stock sell-off, with Japanese giants such as Sony and Toyota hit after they were forced to halt production in the country.

Sony dived 6.27 per cent, while Toyota lost 4.83 per cent and Nissan was off 3.6 per cent.

Reactor-maker Toshiba, which fell by its 16 per cent daily limit on Monday, was ask-only.

And the ripples are just beginning to register in the global economy.

Japan manufactures more than 40 per cent of the world's electronic components, according to brokerage firm CLSA.

“Japan remains critical to the global tech food chain,'' Bhavtosh Vajpayee, CLSA's head of technology research, said in a report.

“Japan still dominates many parts of the tech supply chain, while contributing meaningfully elsewhere.''

Much of the NAND flash memory, for instance, for Apple's new iPad 2 comes from Toshiba, the tech website Engadget said on Monday.

“Already, we're seeing reports predicting shortages of components that could ultimately create delays and/or increase the prices of our favourite gadgets,'' Engadget wrote. But a Toshiba spokeswoman told AFP that only one of its factories, plus its research and development centre, was still closed on Tuesday.

More In: Industry | Business