March 13, 2011 10:12 p.m. EST: There was an
explosion at the No. 3 reactor of the Daiichi plant in
Fukushima. This is the same plant that has
experienced an explosion at its No. 1 reactor.
(Korean news) reports that 2,000 bodies have been found,
with possibly 40,000 dead.
stocks have dropped 5% in the wake of all the tragedy and
fell below the 10,000 level. The Bank of Japan
released 1.5 billion yen into an emergency fund in a
effort to stabilize the economy.
March 13, 2011 10:00 p.m. EST: A new tsunami
warning has been issued for the NE coast of Japan, after
another powerful earthquake struck the region. This
earthquake, reported to be 7.9 magnitude, has possibly
caused another tsunami, one estimated to be 3 meters (10
also reports that a third explosion occurred at one of the
damaged nuclear power plants.
is devastating news to an area already dealing with
the aftermath from last week's record 8.9 magnitude
earthquake, resulting 10 meter tsunami and problems with
some of the country's nuclear power plants. With
entire villages and towns destroyed and tens of thousands
of people missing or unaccounted for, it is unthinkable to
imagine what will occur if another tsunami comes ashore.
The residents of northeastern Japan were
jolted by a record 8.9 magnitude earthquake, Friday,
followed by a 7-meter (23 foot) tsunami. The tsunami,
triggered by the earthquake, swept homes, ships and
buildings out of its way leaving behind untold
damage. As if that wasn't enough, some of the
damaged areas are being further ravaged by fire.
Videos of the affected
areas show farmland becoming completely engulfed with
debris-riddled water and vehicles trying to escape the
onslaught of water. The devastation in Miyagi
Prefecture, which was the closest to the epicenter of the
earthquake, is unthinkable.
While the nuclear power
plants that are currently in operation have no radiation
leaks, a power plant in Onahama is under observation due
to a reactor's core not cooling down after being shutdown.
While it is hard to
predict the ferocity of an earthquake of this magnitude
and resulting tsunami, there were warning signs that a
"big one" would be occurring in Japan.
There were rumblings and enough "little" things
happening in the past few years that gave cause for
concern that a strong earthquake was imminent.
prediction of a powerful earthquake could not prepare
Japan for the devastating tsunami that followed and
consequential fires or even the strong aftershocks.
While the earthquake in New Zealand destroyed a city, the
earthquake in Japan was reported to have been 8,000 times
stronger. The tsunami it created surged ashore and
destroyed everything in its path for miles inland before
receeding. Unfortunately, it brings to mind the
South Korean blockbuster movie, Haeundae
While the Japanese are
struggling to cope with the effects of the natural
disaster on their island, there are others affected in
decidedly less traumatic ways. Two of the airports
outside Tokyo had shut down, effectively stranding 23,000
passengers. The impact of the closure was felt
around the world as flights were cancelled and incoming
flights were diverted to other airports.
The effects of the
earthquake are expected to be long-reaching with the
tsunami going to the west coast of the US, Hawaii, Mexico
and South America. While Hawaii has had some of the
first waves reach its shores, the damage was
*Side note: While
Japan deals with the aftereffects of their catastrophic
earthquake/tsunami, we send out positive thoughts and
prayers to their country and to the families directly
affected by the events
The main earthquake was preceded by
a number of large foreshocks, beginning with a 7.2 MW
event on 9 March approximately 40 km (25 mi)
from 11 March quake, and followed by another three on the
same day in excess of 6 MW in magnitude.
One minute prior to the effects of the earthquake being
felt in Tokyo, the Earthquake Early Warning system
connected to more than 1,000 seismometers in Japan sent
out warnings on television of an impending earthquake to
millions. This was possible because the damaging seismic
S-waves, traveling at 4 kilometers per second, took about
90 seconds to travel the 373 km to Tokyo. The early
warning is believed by the Japan Meteorological Agency to
have saved many lives.
The earthquake occurred in the
western Pacific Ocean, 130 km (81 mi) east of
Sendai, Honshu, Japan. Its epicenter was 373 km (232 mi)
from Tokyo, according to the United States Geological
Survey (USGS). Multiple aftershocks were reported after
the initial magnitude 8.9 - 9.0 quake at 14:46 local time.
A magnitude 7.0 aftershock was reported at 15:06 local
time, 7.4 at 15:15 local time and 7.2 at 15:26 local time.
Over three hundred aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or greater
have occurred since the initial quake.
Initially reported as 7.9 by the USGS, the magnitude was
quickly upgraded to 8.8 and then to 8.9, and then again to
either 9.0 or 9.1 according to some sources. This
earthquake occurred in the Japan Trench, where the Pacific
Plate is subducting beneath the Okhotsk Plate. A quake of
this size usually has a rupture length of at least 480 km
(300 mi) and requires a long, relatively straight
fault line. Because the plate boundary and subduction zone
in this region is not very straight, earthquake magnitudes
are usually expected to be up to 8 to 8.5; the magnitude
of this earthquake was a surprise to some seismologists.
The hypocentral region of this earthquake extends from
offshore Iwate to offshore Ibaraki Prefectures. The
Japanese Meteorological Agency said that the earthquake
may have ruptured the fault zone from Iwate to Ibaraki
with a length of 500 km (310 mi) and a width of
200 km (120 mi). Analysis showed that this
earthquake consisted of a set of three events. The
earthquake may have had the same mechanism as that of
another large earthquake in 869 with estimated
magnitude 8.6, which also caused a large tsunami.
The quake registered a maximum 7 on
the Japan Meteorological Agency seismic intensity scale in
Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture. Three other
prefectures—Fukushima, Ibaraki and Tochigi—recorded
upper 6 on the JMA scale. Seismic stations in Iwate,
Gunma, Saitama and Chiba Prefecture measured lower 6,
recording upper 5 in Tokyo.
This earthquake released a surface
energy (Me) of 1.9±0.5×1017
joules, dissipated as shaking and tsunamic energy, which
is nearly double that of the 9.1-magnitude 2004 Sumatran
earthquake that killed 230,000 people. The total energy
released (Mw) was calculated by the USGS WPhase
Moment Solution at 3.9×1022 joules, slightly
less than the 2004 Sumatra quake. The total energy
released underground was some 205,000 times that on the
Soil liquefaction in Koto, Tokyo
According to Italy's National
Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the earthquake's
enormous strength shifted the Earth's axis by 25 centimeters
(9.8 in). This deviation led a number of small
changes, including those to the length of a day and the
tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth's rotation
increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to
the redistribution of Earth's mass.
A report by the U.S. Geological
Survey said that Honshu, the main island of Japan, was
shifted 2.4 m (7.9 ft) toward the east.
Researcher Lucy Jones said of the precise data, "The
Japanese have the best seismic information in the world...
This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake
Shinmoedake, a volcano in Kyushu,
erupted two days after the earthquake. Although previous
eruptions of the volcano occurred in January 2011, it is
not known if the earthquake had triggered a renewed
Wave height map for the
tsunami from NOAA
The earthquake triggered tsunami
warnings and evacuations for Japan's Pacific coast and at
least 20 countries, including the entire Pacific
coast of North and South America from Alaska to Chile.
The tsunami warning issued by Japan
was the most serious on its warning scale, implying that
the wave was expected to be at least 10 m (33 ft)
high. The earthquake took place at 14:46 JST around 200
kilometers from the nearest point on Japan's coastline (to
the west), and initial estimates indicate the tsunami
would have taken from 10-15 minutes to 15-30 minutes to
reach the areas first affected, and areas further north
and south depending on the geography of the coastline. A
tsunami was observed at 15:55 JST flooding Sendai Airport,
which is located near the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, with
waves sweeping away cars and planes and flooding various
buildings as they traveled inland. The impact of the
tsunami in and around Sendai Airport was filmed by an NHK
News helicopter, showing a number of vehicles on local
roads trying to escape the approaching wave and being
engulfed by it. A 4-meter
Shortly after the earthquake, the
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued tsunami
watches and warnings for locations in the Pacific,
including a tsunami watch for Hawaii at 7:56 pm
Hawaii Standard Time (0556 GMT). At 9:30 pm (0730
GMT) PTWC upgraded the watch for Hawaii to a warning and
also issued a widespread tsunami warning for the entire
Pacific Ocean. The United States West Coast and Alaska
Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the
coastal areas of California and Oregon from Point
Conception, California, to the Oregon-Washington border.
In California and Oregon, up to 8 ft (2.4 m)
high tsunami surges hit some areas, damaging docks and
harbors and causing over US$10 million of damage.
Hawaii estimated damage to public infrastructure alone at
$3 million. A tsunami warning was also advised for
the Canadian province of British Columbia, where the
potentially affected areas included British Columbia's
north coast and the outer west coast of Vancouver Island.
Some South Pacific countries,
including Tonga, American Samoa and New Zealand,
experienced larger-than-normal waves, but did not report
any major damage. Along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and
South America, tsunami surges were reported, but in most
places caused little or no damage. Peru reported a wave of
1.5 meters (4.9 ft) and over 300 homes damaged
in the towns of Pueblo Nuevo de Colan and Pisco. The surge
in Chile was large enough to cause some damage. Warnings
were issued in all countries at risk, and there was plenty
of time to evacuate people from coastal areas; there were
very few casualties outside Japan.
The bottom MODIS satellite
image was taken on 26 February, and the top on 12 March,
post-tsunami; Sendai is approximately centered in both.
Scale is 10 km.
Both the earthquake and the
resultant tsunami caused many casualties. Unlike other
countries which had many hours' notice of a relatively
small surge, a major tsunami struck Japan with only
minutes' warning, leaving many people unable to escape.
Prefectural officials and the Kyodo
News Agency, quoting local officials, said that 9,500
people from Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture—about a
half of the town′s population—were unaccounted
for. NHK has reported that the death toll in Iwate
Prefecture alone may reach 10,000.
Officials in Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai,
which was heavily damaged by tsunami waves, stated that
they had found the bodies of 200–300 victims.
A map showing
epicenter of earthquake and position of nuclear power
Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant,
Fukushima I, Fukushima II and Tōkai nuclear power
stations were automatically shut down following the
earthquake. Higashidōri, also on the northeast coast,
was already shut down for a periodic inspection. However,
cooling is needed to remove decay heat for several days
even when a plant has been shut down. The cooling process
is powered by emergency diesel generators, as in the case
of Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant]
At Fukushima I and II emergency power systems failed,
leading to severe problems including a large explosion at
Fukushima I and leakage of radiation. Over 200,000
people have been evacuated.
Seismic recordings at six assessed
nuclear power plant facilities indicated the plants had
been exposed to peak ground accelerations of 0.037 - 0.383
g and peak ground velocities of 6.18 - 52.62
I and II
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)
is trying to reduce the pressure within the plants by
venting contaminated steam from the reactor vessel into
the atmosphere. According to Tomoko Murakami, of the
nuclear energy group at Japan's Institute of Energy
Economics, this would not result in the release of
significant radiation. Residents living within a 20 km
(12 mi) radius of the Fukushima I plant were
evacuated, as well as residents within 3 km (1.9 mi)
of the Fukushima II plant. On 12 March, a BBC journalist
reported being stopped 60 km from the blast site by
police. As of 14 March, 160 people have been exposed to
dangerous radiation levels near the power stations and
three had severe symptoms of radiation poisoning. One
plant employee was killed by the earthquake while
operating a crane and eight were injured. Some local
residents and health workers have been diagnosed with mild
The effects of the quake included
visible smoke rising from a building in the Port of Tokyo
with parts of the port areas being flooded, including soil
liquefaction in Tokyo Disneyland's carpark.
More than 1.4 million
households were reported to have lost access to water
Stranded passengers on a Tokyo
train. Major disruptions to train travel, as well as
car and airplane travel, have occurred in places
such as Tokyo and northeastern Japan.
Japan's transport network suffered
severe disruption. Many sections of Tohoku expressway
serving northern Japan were damaged. All railway services
were suspended in Tokyo, with an estimated 20,000 people
stranded at major stations across the city. In the hours
after the earthquake, some train services were resumed.
Most Tokyo area train lines resumed full service by the
next day-12 March. Twenty thousand stranded visitors spent
the night of 11–12 March inside Tokyo Disneyland.
A tsunami wave was seen flooding
Sendai Airport at 15:55 JST, about 1 hour after the
initial quake. Narita and Haneda Airport both suspended
operations after the quake, with most flights diverted to
other airports for about 24 hours. Ten airliners bound for
Narita were diverted to nearby Yokota Air Base.
Various train services around Japan
were also canceled, with JR East suspending all services
for the rest of the day. Four trains on coastal lines were
reported as being out of contact with operators; one, a
four-car train on the Senseki Line, was found to have
derailed, and its occupants were rescued shortly after 8 am
the next morning. There had been no derailments of
Shinkansen bullet train services in and out of Tokyo, but
their services were also suspended.The Tōkaidō
Shinkansen resumed limited service late in the day and was
back to its normal schedule by the next day, while the Jōetsu
and Nagano Shinkansen resumed services late on 12 March;
however, the Tōhoku Shinkansen remained suspended,
with visible damage to electrical poles and elevated
spans, and the state of the line in harder-hit areas still
difficult to ascertain. A date for resumption of services
has not been announced, but repairs are expected to take a
considerable amount of time.
Cellular and landline phone service
suffered major disruptions in the affected area. Internet
services, however, have not been affected to a great
extent; only a few websites are unreachable. Several Wi-Fi
hotspot providers have reacted to the quake by providing
free access to their networks.
An aerial view of Sendai, 12
March. While some analysts are predicting that the
total recovery costs could reach ¥10 trillion
yen (or $122 billion USD),
others suggest that the rebuilding efforts will help
boost the Japanese economy in the long term.
The quake has had significant
immediate impacts on businesses such as Toyota, Nissan and
Honda, who completely suspended auto production until 14
March. Nippon Steel Corporation also suspended production,
Toyo Tire & Rubber Company and Sumitomo Rubber
Industries shuttered their tyre and rubber production
lines, while GS Yuasa closed its automotive battery
production. This was expected to hinder supply
availability for automakers. Tokyo Electric Power Company,
Toshiba, East Japan Railway Company and Shin-Etsu Chemical
Company were suggested as the most vulnerable companies as
a result of the earthquake. Sony also suspended production
at all its six plants in the area, while Fuji Heavy
Industries discontinued production at most of its
factories in the Gunma and the Tochigi Prefectures Other
factories suspending operations include Kirin Holdings,
GlaxoSmithKline, and Nestlé. The northern Tohoku region,
which was most affected, accounts for about 8 percent of
the country's gross domestic product as it has factories
that make products such as cars and beer as well as energy
infrastructure. The factory shutdowns, power cuts and the
consequent presumed impact on consumer confidence could
hurt the national GDP for several months, although
economist Michael Boskin predicts "only minimal
impact on the Japanese economy overall."
does not guarantee the complete accuracy of the information provided on
this site or links. Do your own research and get a professional's
opinion before adhering to advice or information contained herein.
Use of the information contained herein provided by AsianInfo.org and
any mistakes contained within are at the individual risk of the user.
do not provide links to, or knowingly promote, any violent or pornographic