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Japan Devastated by Earthquake Tsunami

published  First Published: 11/03/2011
Article written by: Nigel Brookson

Earthquake measuring 8.9 hits Japan

The magnitude 8.9 offshore earthquake caused massive waves; some up to 10m high to slam into the eastern coast of Japan, washing away boats, cars, homes and people; infact anything in its path and causing widespread fires to burn out of control.

The earthquake; reportedly 160 times stronger than what struck Christchurch New Zealand recently and the biggest in Japan's recorded history, struck at 2.46pm local time (4.46pm AEDT) on Friday.
It was then followed by more than 19 aftershocks, measuring up to 7.1 magnitude, which effected dozens of cities and villages along a 2,100km stretch of Japan's eastern shore.

Further tsunamis are expected to wash ashore overnight according to the US Geological Survey.
The death toll currently stands at 60, but is expected to top 1,000.

A tsunami warning was issued to a number of Pacific, South-east Asian and Latin American nations, including Indonesia, the Philippines, the US state of Hawaii, Russia and Chile.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan went on Japan TV saying the quake has caused "major damage in broad areas in northern Japan", with Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima the hardest hit:

Events and Facts so far

  • A 10m wave of muddy water swept over farmland near the city of Sendai, Miyagi, carrying buildings, some on fire, inland as cars attempted to drive away.
  • Sendai airport was covered with cars, trucks, buses and thick mud deposited over its runways
  • Large ships were swept away, ramming directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture
  • A 4m wave struck the small city of Kamaishai in Iwate, taking large fishing boats into the city, slamming up against bridges. Upturned and partially submerged vehicles were seen bobbing in the water
  • A large fire erupted at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and was burning out of control with 30m-high flames
  • Several nuclear plants along the coast were partially shut down, but at present there have been no reports of any radioactive leakage
  • In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers ran into the street for safety. More than 4 million buildings were without power in Tokyo and its neighboring suburbs
  • Japan's Defence Ministry has sent troops and helicopters to worst-hit areas
  • The quake struck at a depth of 10km, about 125km off the eastern coast
  • The US Geological Survey said the quake is the biggest to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s.
  • Japan's worst previous quake was in 1923 in Canto, an 8.3-magnitude tremor that killed 143,000 people

The Japanese government has declared an atomic emergency and told thousands of residents living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima to evacuate, warning a small amount of radiation could be released, although saying no radiation leaks had been detected so far; but trade minister Banri Kaieda said on Friday authorities were nearing a decision to release radioactive steam from a troubled nuclear reactor in a bid to ease a pressure build-up after its cooling system was damaged by a massive earthquake.

"Pressure has risen in the container of the reactor and we are trying to deal with it,"a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, says.

The evacuation advice effects as many as 6000 residents living within a three-kilometre radius of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
The plant had shut down after the quake, but a reactor cooling system failure had led to the evacuation instruction, a situation the government said was "under control".

The US Air Force delivered coolant to a Japanese nuclear plant, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday, without specifying which plant.

Japan has dispatched about 160 military personnel, sending its chemical corps and an aircraft on a "fact finding mission" to the nuclear plant, Kyodo news reported. Prime Minister Naoto Kan had earlier said no radiation leaks had been detected from Japan's nuclear power stations after the massive quake struck the country. Japanese authorities have told the UN atomic watchdog there has been no release of radiation from a number of nuclear power plants affected by the tremor, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday. Earlier, the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre had said the four nuclear power plants closest to the quake which occurred near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, had been "safely shut down".

According to the industry ministry, a total of 11 nuclear reactors automatically shut down at the Onagawa plant, the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants and the Tokai No. 2 plant after the strongest recorded earthquake in the country's history.
A fire that broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture had been extinguished, the government said. Operator Tohoku Electric Power said there were no indications of a radioactive leak.
Miyagi prefecture was one of the areas worst hit by the tsunami, causing millions of households to be without power in northeastern Japan, according to Tohoku Electric.

Japan is located on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where continental plates meet and create a string of volcanoes and seismic hot spots, recording 20 per cent of the world's major earthquakes. As an industrial powerhouse nation poor in energy resources, Japan also draws about 30 per cent of its total power from its 53 nuclear plants

 

 

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