8.9 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, causes tsunami

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Effect of the earthquake in Tokyo
Image: Genshir0.
Tsunami progression forecast

A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in northern Japan early on Friday. The earthquake's epicenter is 130 km (81 miles) east of Sendai, in the Honshu island of Japan. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter was at a depth of 24.4 km (15.2 miles).

The earthquake triggered tsunamis in various parts of the country. Japan issued a tsunami warning immediately after the earthquake, followed by tsunami warnings for New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Chile, Guam, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Hawaii, Northern Marianas (USA), Taiwan, and California. It is confirmed for the Philippines that if the tsunami doesn't hit the country for 2 hours (5:00 - 7:00) it will be slightly safer, it is currently alert number two for all regions.

The tsunami attained a height of 10 meters, and swept houses, buildings and cars according to reports. Shinkansen stopped the bullet train service following the quake. According to reports, an oil refinery was set ablaze by the quake at Ichihara, Chiba prefecture to the east of Tokyo.

2011 Sendai earthquake - refinery fire

The National Weather Service said that earthquakes "of this size" often "generate tsunamis potentially dangerous to coasts outside the source region." "Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter," it added.

About 20 people were reportedly injured in Tokyo following the collapse of a roof of a hall. 4 million people are estimated to be without power in the capital. In Sendai, several people are feared to be buried under the remains of a collapsed hotel.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said there had been no nuclear plant radiation leaks caused by the disaster. He expressed sympathy to all victims in his address, promising help, and stating that an emergency response headquarters had been set up. 288 people have been confirmed dead so far.

However, a 2-3 km area around the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant has been evacuated as a precaution as the temperature inside on of the nuclear reactor has "remain[ed] at a high temperature" despite the plant being shut down. Trade Minister Banri Kaieda advised that there is a possibility of a radiation leak at the plant.


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