Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive quake

Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive quake

source : BBC

Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive quake

A massive earthquake has hit the north-east of Japan, triggering a tsunami that has caused extensive damage.

Japanese television showed cars, ships and even buildings being swept away by a vast wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake.

The quake has sparked fires in several areas including Tokyo, and numerous casualties are feared.

It struck about 250 miles (400km) from the capital at a depth of 20 miles. There have been powerful aftershocks.

The tremor hit at 1446 local time (0546 GMT). Seismologists say it is one of the largest earthquakes to hit Japan for many years.

At the scene

When the earthquake hit, buildings in Tokyo swayed. Walking was like crossing the deck of a ship at sea.

People poured down from their offices and stood in the street staring up.

A large fire seemed to have broken out in one part of the city and, in another place, injured people were being brought out of a station.

The authorities immediately issued a tsunami warning.

In Tokyo, public transport has been suspended, elevators are switched off in many buildings and thousands of people have gathered in squares and around train stations.


The tsunami warning was extended to the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Pacific coast of Russia and Hawaii.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the wave could extend as far as Chile.

Tsunami waves hit Japan's Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, officials said, damaging dozens of coastal communities.

Japan's NHK television showed a massive surge of debris-filled water sweeping away buildings, cars and ships and reaching far inland.

Motorists could be seen trying to speed away from the wall of water.

Farmland around the coastal city of Sendai was submerged and the waves pushed cars across the runway of the city's airport.


The earthquake also triggered a number of fires, including one at an oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, engulfing storage tanks.

There were reports of about 20 people injured in Tokyo after the roof of a hall collapsed on to a graduation ceremony.

Residents and workers in Tokyo rushed out of apartment buildings and office blocks and gathered in parks and open spaces as aftershocks continued to hit.

Many people in Tokyo said they had never felt such a powerful earthquake.

Map of Japan

In central Tokyo, Jeffrey Balanag said he was stuck in his office in the Shiodome Sumitomo building because the elevators had stopped working.

"There's no panic but we're almost seasick from the constant rolling of the building," he told the BBC.

Bullet train services to northern Japan were halted, rapid transit in Tokyo was suspended and some nuclear power plants automatically shut down.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said there had been no radiation leaks.

In a televised address, he extended his sympathy to the victims of the disaster and said an emergency response headquarters had been set up.

He said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.4 while the US Geological Survey said it measured 8.9.


Massive quake hits Japan; triggers Tsunami

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

The quake, which was followed 30 minutes later by an aftershock registering above 7, triggered 13 meter high waves that struck the coast off Honshu, washing away cars and people and destroying buildings.

All power is down in the affected region, and all trains and buses have been stopped in Tokyo. Narita International airport has also been shut down for inspection of runways and other facilities. The country's nuclear plants have all been shut down as a safety measure.

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

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.

source : Yahoo

Location Date UTC Magnitude Lat. Long. Reference
1. Chile 1960 05 22 9.5 -38.29 -73.05 Kanamori, 1977
2. Prince William Sound, Alaska 1964 03 28 9.2 61.02 -147.65 Kanamori, 1977
3. Off the West Coast of Northern Sumatra 2004 12 26 9.1 3.30 95.78 Park et al., 2005
4. Kamchatka 1952 11 04 9.0 52.76 160.06 Kanamori, 1977
5. Offshore Maule, Chile 2010 02 27 8.8 -35.846 -72.719 PDE
6. Off the Coast of Ecuador 1906 01 31 8.8 1.0 -81.5 Kanamori, 1977
7. Rat Islands, Alaska 1965 02 04 8.7 51.21 178.50 Kanamori, 1977
8. Northern Sumatra, Indonesia 2005 03 28 8.6 2.08 97.01 PDE
9. Assam - Tibet 1950 08 15 8.6 28.5 96.5 Kanamori, 1977
10. Andreanof Islands, Alaska 1957 03 09 8.6 51.56 -175.39 Johnson et al., 1994
11. Southern Sumatra, Indonesia 2007 09 12 8.5 -4.438 101.367 PDE
12. Banda Sea, Indonesia 1938 02 01 8.5 -5.05 131.62 Okal and Reymond, 2003
13. Kamchatka 1923 02 03 8.5 54.0 161.0 Kanamori, 1988
14. Chile-Argentina Border 1922 11 11 8.5 -28.55 -70.50 Kanamori, 1977
15. Kuril Islands 1963 10 13 8.5 44.9 149.6 Kanamori, 1977
Updated 2010 March 29
Source : USGS

In Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan addressed the nation, saying the government will do "everything possible to minimize the damage" and calling for international assistance. "We ask the people of Japan to exercise the spirit of fraternity and act fast and to assist one's family and neighbors," Kan said.

Several countries, including Russia and South Korea, pledged support, putting emergency crews on standby. The U.S. military - which said all its personnel in Japan were accounted for - announced it was coordinating with Japan's government.

President Obama, who was briefed on the quake about 4 a.m., said the United States "stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial."

Authorities ordered evacuations from low-lying areas on the U.S. island territory of Guam in the western Pacific, but the tsunami passed that area without causing significant damage, according to news reports.

In Japan, the quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time (12:46 a.m. in Washington). According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck at a depth of about six miles, about 80 miles off the coast east of Miyagi Prefecture, a mostly rural but still densely populated part of Honshu, Japan's largest island.

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