Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan devastated by 8.9 magnitude quake followed by Tsunami hit

March 11, 2011 Japan
A powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake - Japan's largest on record - has triggered tsunamis that have cause destruction over large areas of Japan and triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific region.

The biggest earthquake on record to hit Japan has rocked its northeast coast, triggering a ten-metre tsunami that killed hundreds of people and swept away everything in its path.

After the 8.9 magnitude quake, media reports said up to 300 bodies were found in the coastal city of Sendai.

Television reports said the victims appeared to have drowned. The death toll is expected to rise.

Some 3,000 residents living near a nuclear plant, north of Tokyo, were told to evacuate but the government said no radiation was leaking.

It said the evacuation was a precaution after a reactor cooling malfunction. Other nuclear power plants and oil refineries were shut down, while one refinery was ablaze.

An explosion was reported at a petrochemical complex in Miyagi.

Tsunami warnings were issued across the Pacific Rim, but were later lifted for some of the most populated countries in the region, including Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said the UN was ready to help Japan in any way necessary, following the disaster.

Seismologists say the earthquake is seventh strongest in history.

The wall of water set off tsunami alerts across the Pacific from South America to North America and southeast Asia.

A Japanese ship with 100 people aboard was carried away while more than 300 houses were destroyed in the remote city of Ofunato.

Kyodo news agency has reported that a passenger train is unaccounted for after the tsunami.

In Sendai a tide of black water sent shipping containers, cars and debris crashing through streets and across open farmland.

The Japanese government said the tsunami has caused 'tremendous damage' while aerial footage showed massive flooding in northern towns.

In the capital Tokyo, where millions fled swaying buildings, multiple injuries were reported when the roof of a hall collapsed during a graduation ceremony.

Plumes of smoke rose from at least ten locations in the city, where 4m homes suffered power outages. An oil refinery is still on fire in Ichihara near Tokyo.

The tsunami also reached Sendai airport, submerging the runway while a process known as liquefaction, caused by the intense shaking of the tremor, turned parts of the ground to liquid.

Tsunami waves have washed ashore in Hawaii, but the popular tourist destination appears to have escaped major damage.

The largest wave to crash ashore in Hawaii - some 6,500km from the epicentre of the quake - was measured as a six-foot (1.8m) surge and hit Kahului on Maui.

The first quake struck just 400km northeast of Tokyo, the US Geological Survey said. It was followed by more than 40 aftershocks, one as strong as 7.1.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan quickly assembled his cabinet and the government dispatched naval vessels from near Tokyo to Miyagi.

US President Barack Obama led international offers of sympathy and aid in what he called Japan's 'time of great trial', while Mr Kan's government called on help from US forces stationed in the country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that concerned relatives should contact it on 01-4082000.

They can also register details of Irish people in Japan on the

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says the solidarity of the Irish people is with the people of Japan 'in this moment of great trial.'

'While it is our sincere and earnest belief that the Japanese people will recover quickly and fully from this disaster, Ireland stands ready to assist our Japanese friends in any way possible,' he said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore - who is visiting Budapest - has said he is very concerned about the people of Japan and up to 2,000 Irish people there.

He said the Irish Ambassador in Japan, John Neary, has told him that so far there are no reports of Irish citizens in trouble.

Ibaraki - Vehicles ready for shipping were carried away by the wave
Ichihara - Oil refinery plant is on fire
Japan - Water has inundated several towns along the northeast coast
Yabuki - Road collapsed after earthquake

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