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Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami hits Japan After Earthquake

Massive quake hits Japan; triggers Tsunami.

Tsunami Affected Japan
-- At 2.46 pm Japan time, an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale struck at a depth of 24.4 km below the ocean's surface, 130 km (80 miles) from the coastal city of Honshu and 373 km (231 miles) from Tokyo

-- The resulting tsunami, with waves in excess of 10 meters in height, struck the port of Sendai and devastated a large part of North East Japan

-- This is reported to be the worst earthquake in 140 years

-- All public transport, rail, air, port and mobile services were shut down. Schools are providing shelter to stranded commuters

-- Nuclear power emergency declared. Five plants shut down. A fire broke out at Oganawa nuclear plant in NE Japan and has since been extinguished

-- The Yen dropped, Nikkei closed at a five-week low and all other world markets are trading lower than usual.

-- Honda has suspended operations at its assembly plant in Saitama, near Tokyo

-- As many as 80 buildings, many of them in Tokyo, burst into flames as a result of the quake

-- 4 million households hav e been deprived of electricity

-- Tsunami alert along the Pacific Coast; Hawaii experiences a 4.9 magnitude quake; Taiwan, Russia, Chile still on high alert

--Hawaii, Russia and Taiwan have evacuated people from the danger areas

--The official toll stands at 59; true figures are expected only once communications are restored

We bring you updated information as received; refresh for the latest:

7:15 pm: In a statement issued to the media, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks of "tremendous damage" across a wide area "centered on the Tohuku district." While extending his sympathies to the victims, Kan says "As for our nuclear power facilities, a portion of them stopped their operations automatically. At present we have no reports of any radioactive materials or otherwise affecting the surrounding areas."

7:09 pm: Update: At least 60 dead, numerous others missing, injured after quake: Kyodo

7:04 pm: Between 200 and 300 bodies have been found on a beach near Sendai: BBC reports

6:58 pm: India offered help after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, and added that the 25,000 Indians living in that country were safe..

6:56 pm: Thousands -- still scarred by memories of the 2004 tsunami that left over 240,000 of their people dead -- living along the eastern Indonesian coast had fled to high ground following the quake and resultant tsunami warning.

6:54 pm: Waves raised by the Japan quake have hit the north east of Indonesia, but the BBC reports that they are less than half a meter in height and hence not expected to cause any significant damage.

6:48 pm: Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that 700 or more flights from Japan have been cancelled in the wake of the quake. An estimated 12,500 people are reported stranded at Narita International airport and another 10,000 or more at Haneda airport, both of which collectively serve the Greater Tokyo region.

6:43 pm: Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague has said, following a meeting of the emergency committee, that rapid response units attached to the British armed forces have been placed in a state of alert and are in ready-to-go status in response to the Japanese quake. Hague said Britain is committed to provide any assistance sought by the Japanese government.

6:33 pm: In a statement expressing his, and First Lady Michelle Obama's, condolences for the victims of the Japan quake, US President Barack Obama said the US is standing by and ready to help in any way required. The Japanese government, which has already alerted its own military to help with rescue and relief efforts, has indicated that it needs help from the US military to deal with the aftermath of the quake and the resulting tsunami.

6:30 pm: The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that the fire that broke out at the Onagawa nuclear plant, in the Oshika district of Miyagi prefecture, has been extinguished. Onagawa-3 is reputed as the most modern, state of the art reactor in Japan. The reactor had also been affected by the 2005 Miyagi earthquake. In May 2006, officials found a leaking pipe; the damage was caused by debris that resulted from the quake.

6:25 pm: Japanese agency Sankei reports that authorities have asked people living within 2 km of the Fukushima nuclear plant to evacuate immediately. The report says this is a precautionary measure, while authorites work to cool off the nuclear reactor which, when shut down following the quake, was discovered to have a defect in the main cooling system.

6:11 pm: Update: Kyodo News reports that the official toll has been revised upwards to 59.

5:32 pm: No matter how many pictures and videos you see, or stories you read, the awesome forces of nature continue to defy the imagination, to beggar description. Here's an example: a BBC video of an enormous whirlpool triggered by the Japan quake

5:22 pm: An emergency cooling unit has been activated at the Fukushima nuclear plant, where the cooling system's malfunction had led to the declaration of a state of nuclear emergency (See update of 5.16 pm). Kyodo News Agency, meanwhile, reports a fire in the turbine building of the Onagawa nuclear plant, which is located in Miyagi prefecture, one of the regions worst hit by the tsunami..

5:16 pm: Associated Press reports that the 'nuclear emergency' declared by Japan is non-lethal. Quoting chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, AP reports that the nuclear in Fukushima prefecture, located on the island of Honshu, developed mechanical failure of the systems needed to cool it down after it was shut in the wake of the quake. The declaration of emergency, Edano said, was a precaution; there was no immediate danger, and no leak, at the plant, the cabinet official confirmed.

5:15 pm: Ship carrying 100 people carried away by tsunami, says Japanese news agency Kyodo.

5:05 pm: Trains and buses remain shut down, and stranded commuters in Tokyo report a huge dearth of taxis. On Twitter, Makiko Itoh (@makiwi) reports that various schools and universities in the area are opening up their classrooms for the benefit of the stranded commuters.

5:04 pm: Japan has declared a state of 'nuclear emergency'. Government broadcaster NHK reports that attempts to cool one reactor has not "gone as planned". All reactors were shut down, as a safety measure, in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

4:54 pm: Japan has declared a state of emergency because of the failure of the cooling system at one nuclear plant, according to the Associated Press.

4:36 pm: "People were very frightened. Very rare since people in Japan are used to quakes. Today was very different" -- Reactions, as quake-prone Japan trembles to the biggest quake in 140 years.

4:30 pm: Update: At least 32 people have been killed and numerous others injured, says Japanese news agency Kyodo.

4:27 pm: All Indians in Tokyo reported to be safe: Sources

4:25 pm: IAEA says four nuclear power plants closest to the earthquake's epicentre have been shut down safely.

4:15 pm: Yahoo! Australia reports, quoting International Red Cross officials, that the tsunami now racing across the ocean is high enough to wash over some entire Pacific islands. More

4:13 pm: 4.6-magnitude quake hits Hawaii; state is still under tsunami warning from Japan quake: NBC News reports

4:07 pm: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has published an updated Tsunami alert, giving places likely to be hit and the concerned timings. The full list

4:06 pm: Honda suspends operations at assembly plant in Saitama, near Tokyo: Japanese news agency Kyodo reports.

4:00 pm: Government authorities in Taiwan says there has been small evacuations: BBC reports.

3:58 pm: The website Earthquake Report has listed over 30 aftershocks consequent on the Japan quake. More

3:56 pm: Government and police raise death toll from Japan quake to 29: AP reports

3:37 pm: The Japan Meteorological Agency estimates that the city of Kurihara, located in the north-western part of Japan's Miyagi Prefecture, has been completely destroyed. Kurihara is known for the quality and quantity of rice it produces, and also as a tourist destination thanks to a large number of hot springs, many of them located at the foot of the dormant volcano Mt Kurikoma.

3:31 pm: In a sadly ironic twist, Japanese quake experts were elsewhere when the quake hit earlier today. Some of the country's leading experts on earthquakes had, at the initiative of the Japanese government and the request of the New Zealand government, flown to Christchurch to help in the aftermath of the disastrous February 22, 2011 quake in that city that left over 300 dead and caused untold damage.

3:27 pm: The official death toll has now climbed to 19. Those confirmed dead include two in the wider Tokyo area due to a wall collapse and the fall of a roof; three in the Ibaraki prefecture north-east of Tokyo due to house collapses; five in the Fukushima provine and three in the Kanto province. On-ground reports indicate that the actual toll could be fearsome, and that it will take days for the full magnitude to be measured. Many dozens meanwhile are trapped in the rubble following a hotel collapse in the city of Sendai.

3:12 pm: Little things make a big difference. The Japanese government, currently battling the worst earthquake to hit the quake-prone country in 140 years, found the time and sensitivity to do the little things: reports say that with cellphone services out of whack, the government has made all pay phones free of charge to enable people to stay connected at a time of considerable chaos.

3:07 pm: Residents in the Phillippines have been warned to evacuate and move to high ground, with weather experts predicting the first waves of the tsunami to strike around 6 PM local time. The Coast Guard has been put on high alert, and rescue teams have been placed in a state of emergency alert.

3:05 pm: Authorities in Taiwan have warned that tidal waves triggered by the Japan quake could reach the eastern coast of the Island at around 5.30 PM local time, and also possibly hit the north-eastern port of Keelung by 6:00 pm.

3:03 pm: The US Geological Society meanwhile has reported a secondary quake, timed at 5.12 PM Japan time, of magnitude 6.2, also near the eastern coast of Honshu. More

3:00 pm: In another illustration of how social media is supplementing, even exceeding, the work of news agencies, the CitizenTube initiative features videos of the Japan quake shot by the people themselves. Watch video

2:41 pm: Within half an hour of the quake, the Twitter monitoring service Tweet-O-Meter indicated that tweets out of Tokyo were streaming in at the rate of over 1,200 per minute.

2:40 pm: Tsunami alert issued across US West Coast; evacuation on in Hawaii.

Photos: Tsunami damages northern Japan

2:30 pm: 11,000 evacuated in Russia in the wake of Japanese tsunami

2:29 pm: With a massive electricity and communications blackout impacting the quake-hit area, estimates of the toll and damages will take a considerable time to be collated. For now, the Japanese government is officially reporting five dead, AP reports.

2:27 pm: Though the Sensex fell over 200 points in reaction to the news of the quake, no lasting impact on the economy is expected, say experts. More

2:24 pm: The United States Geological Survey, which has been tracking the quake and its aftermath, has pegged the Japan quake at 8.9 on the Richter scale. That makes this the 5th biggest earthquake in history, ahead of the February 2010 quake in Chile. See chart

2:22 pm: Four million homes in Japan have no power supply.

2:21 pm: Sendai airport in northern Japan flooded.

2:17 pm: Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that as many as 14 public structures are on fire in Tokyo.

2:15 pm: The Japan Meteorological Agency in a press statement warned that aftershocks of a possible magnitude of 7 and above on the Richter scale could happen in a month, consequent on today's quake.

2:15 pm: AP reports that Russian authorities have evacuated over 12,000 residents of the far-eastern Sakhalin Island and its neighborhood as a consequence of the tsunami warning.

2:05 pm: Biggest quake since 1995, say Japanese met officials.

2 pm: Blaze continues at major oil refinery. Fires break out in Tokyo as well. Aftershocks continue in Tokyo. Casualty numbers trickling in.

1:55 pm: Kudan Kaikan auditorium collapses: 600 had gathered for a graduation ceremony, 30 seriously injured.

1:53 pm: Television studio cameras shake as aftershocks continue.

1:52 pm: Tsunami warnings for Australia, New Zealand.

1:45 pm: Japan's disaster management team is headed by its prime minister Naoto Kan. One of the biggest earthquakes ever to hit the country, says met office.

Tsunami may hit Indonesia, Hawaii next.

1:26 pm: Japan has swung into disaster control mode following a tsunami and massive earthquake on Friday.
The country has shut down all its ports, airports and nuclear installations.

World television channels showed cars and boats being swept onshore by huge tidal waves. A bigger tsunami is feared.

Ravi Shingari, director, KPMG, Japan, told CNN-IBN over the phone that the Japanese were not as shocked by the tremors as the Indians.

The nearest city to the epicenter is the coastal city of Honshu, 130 km (80 miles) from the quake center. Tokyo is 373 km (231 miles) away.

The quake was approximately 24.4 KM deep within the ocean. Al Jazeera is running a live stream of the disaster:

Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan said no radiation leak had been reported from any nuclear installation.

The authorities had no casualty numbers, and said they were concentrating on 'relief and rescue'.

Thousands of passengers are trapped in trains, which have stopped mid-way. Prime minister Kan said they would be rescued, and appealed to people in all parts of Japan to be vigilant.

Prime minister Kan is addressing the nation. 'Stay calm', is his message.

The tidal waves were 13 feet high, met reports say.

Buildings in Tokyo shook and made creaking sounds, according to an Indian executive working in that city.

An oil refinery is on fire, and the fire authorities are fighting a losing battle.
People are milling around Tokyo station as all trains and buses have been halted.
Stranded passengers can't find any taxis either.

1 pm (India time): All airports have been closed in Japan as the authorities fear fires will break out following the tsunami.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by the tsunami.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
Reuters reports: A massive 8.8 magnitude quake hit the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital Tokyo, causing "many injuries", at least one fire and triggering a four-metre (13-ft) tsunami, NHK television and witnesses reported.

There was also a warning of a 10-metre tsunami following the quake, Japan's biggest in 7 years.

The public broadcaster showed flames and black smoke billowing from a building in Odaiba, a Tokyo suburb, and bullet trains to the north of the country were halted.

Black smoke was also pouring out of an industrial area in Yokohama's Isogo area.

TV footage showed boats, cars and trucks floating in water after a small tsunami hit the town of Kamaichi in northern Japan.

"The building shook for what seemed a long time and many people in the newsroom grabbed their helmets and some got under their desks," Reuters correspondent Linda Sieg said.

"It was probably the worst I have felt since I came to Japan more than 20 years ago."

Passengers on a subway line in Tokyo screamed and grabbed other passengers' hands. The shaking was so bad it was hard to stand, said Reuters reporter Mariko Katsumura.

The U.S. Geological Survey earlier verified a magnitude of 7.9 at a depth of 15.1 miles and located the quake 81 miles east of Sendai, Honshu. It later upgraded it to 8.8.

The Tokyo stock market extended its losses after the quake was announced. The central bank said it would do everything to ensure financial stability.

Japan's northeast Pacific coast, called Sanriku, has suffered from quakes and tsunamis in the past and a 7.2 quake struck on Wednesday. In 1933, a magnitude 8.1 quake in the area killed more than 3,000 people. Last year fishing facilities were damaged after by a tsunami caused by a strong tremor in Chile.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

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Anonymous said...

horrific... I am so saddened by the devastation. there had to be huge loss of life. How could people escape? The early reports were low on loss of life. It's going to be terrible when clean up starts.

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