March 12, 2011

9 quick points about the Japanese earthquake

The killer quake that has struck Japan has "officially" claimed the lives of 350 people, although the government and media reports indicate that the actual toll will be much higher. The following are some quick facts about the earthquake.

1. The earthquake measured 8.9 on the Richter scale; 8000 times stronger than the earthquake which hit Christchurch (New Zealand) last month.

2. A tsunami caused by the quake rolled across the Pacific ocean at nearly 800 km/h and crashed into Hawaii and the West Coast of USA. However no damage has been reported so far. On the other hand evacuation orders were issued for people residing in the coastal areas of California, Oregon and Washington.

3. The worst hit region in Japan is the Miyagi region which has seen many communities in the coastal region being damaged tremendously. A 10m wave struck Sendai damaging the infrastructure and sweeping cars across the city airport's runway. Fires also broke out in the centre of the city.

4. Four trains are missing since the tsunami struck and a ship carrying 100 people was swept away into the Pacific.

5. One-third of Kesennuma city in the Miyagi region is under water and vast fires have engulfed the rest of it.

6. A petrochemical plant exploded in Sendai. Further south, huge fires engulfed an oil refinery in Ichihara city.

7. 1800 homes were swept away when a dam burst in the north-eastern Fukushima prefecture.

8. A nuclear plant in the Fukushima prefecture was unable to shut down and one of its boilers has malfunctioned. According to news reports pressure is rising inside the nuclear plant and officials say they might deliberately have to release some radioactive air. However, they claim that there will be no health risk.

9. About 4 million homes in and around Tokyo have suffered power cuts as residents gather in parks and open spaces while the aftershocks continue.