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Japan’s Black Friday: Mega quake triggers Tsunami; kills hundreds
Published on 12 Mar. 2011 12:55 AM IST
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: A massive earthquake struck Japan on Friday, setting off a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland along the northern part of the country and threatened coastal areas throughout the Pacific. Several quakes have struck the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday.
Walls of water swept away houses and cars in northern Japan and pushed ships aground. Trains were shut down across central and northern Japan, including Tokyo, and air travel was severely disrupted. A ship carrying more than 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo News reported.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the disaster caused major damage across wide areas. Associated Press reports Japanese police say 200 to 300 bodies have been found in a northeastern coastal area.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.9, which the agency labeled a “mega” quake. However, Japanese Meteorological Agency said the quake had a magnitude of 8.8. News reports said it ranked among the biggest in a century.
The quake occurred at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time and hit off Honshu, Japan’s most populous island. The quake was so powerful that buildings in central Tokyo, designed to withstand major earthquakes, swayed. Television images showed waves of more than 20 feet roaring inland. The tsunami drew a line of white fury across the ocean, heading toward the shoreline. Cars and trucks were still moving on highways as the water rushed toward them.
The floodwaters, thick with floating debris shoved inland, pushed aside heavy trucks as if they were toys, in some places carrying blazing buildings toward factories, fields, highways, bridges and homes. The spectacle was all the more remarkable for being carried live on television, even as the waves engulfed flat farmland that offered no resistance. NHK television transmitted aerial images of columns of flame rising from an oil refinery and flood waters engulfing Sendai airport, where survivors clustered on the roof of the airport building. The runway was partially submerged. The refinery fire sent a plume of thick black smoke from blazing spherical storage tanks. A television commentator called the blaze an “inferno.”
The images showed survivors in a home surrounded by water, waving white sheets from the upper floors of buildings. News reports said the earthquake had forced the Tokyo subways to empty while airports were closed and many residents took to the streets.
A second major earthquake of 7.4 magnitude was reported as aftershocks shook the region. Japanese media reported mobile phone networks were not working.
Power blackouts were affecting about 2 million residents around Tokyo alone, the government said.
50 countries on alert
The threat of a tsunami prompted the U.S. National Weather Service to issue a warning for at least 50 countries and territories. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center extended a tsunami warning across most of the Pacific Ocean, and said the tsunami would threaten coastal areas of Russia, Taiwan, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Australia later in the day.
Tsunami hits Russia
Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said that the tsunami had reached the Russian-controlled Kurile Islands north of Hokkaido, Japan at about 6 p.m. local time. “The tsunami has reached three population centers in the Kurile Island chain. The average height of the wave has been recorded at less than one meter.
There have been no casualties or damage,” the ministry said in a statement. In response to the tsunami threat, about 11,000 people have been evacuated from four population centers in the Kuriles, the ministry said.
Tsunami waves sweep Hawaii
Tsunami waves swamped Hawaii beaches before dawn Friday but didn’t cause any major damage sparking evacuations as far away as the U.S. western coast.
Kauai was the first of the Hawaiian islands hit by the tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Water rushed ashore in Honolulu, swamping the beach in Waikiki and surging over a break wall in the world-famous resort but stopping short of the area’s high-rise hotels.
India offers, says threat to India does not exist
India Friday offered help to Japan where a devastating earthquake and tsunami killed several hundred and left many more homeless. The 25,000 Indians living in that country were declared safe.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter to his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan conveyed that “India stood in full solidarity with the government and people of Japan at this hour and expressed India’s readiness to help Japan in any way required”.
There is no threat of a tsunami along the Indian coast, the government said Friday after a magnitude-8.9 earthquake hit Japan, generating massive oceanic tides that killed many and left many more homeless.
“Tsunami threat does not exist in respect of India,” a statement from the home ministry said.

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