Strong earthquake hits Ja­pan, trig­ger­ing Fukushima tsunami

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

TOKYO: A pow­er­ful 6.9-mag­ni­tude earthquake hit north­east Ja­pan yes­ter­day, spark­ing panic and trig­ger­ing a tsunami in­clud­ing a one-me­ter wave that crashed ashore at the stricken Fukushima nu­clear power plant. Na­tional broad­caster NHK urged res­i­dents to “flee im­me­di­ately” to higher ground, re­mind­ing view­ers to heed the lessons of the “Great East Ja­pan Earthquake”. A mas­sive un­der­sea quake with a mag­ni­tude of 9.0 that struck in March 2011 un­leashed a tsunami that left more than 18,500 peo­ple dead or miss­ing. It sent three re­ac­tors into melt­down at the Fukushima Dai­ichi power plant in one of the world’s worst nu­clear dis­as­ters.

An of­fi­cial from plant op­er­a­tor TEPCO told a news con­fer­ence that a one-me­ter wave had hit the coast at the fa­cil­ity, but a com­pany spokesman said there were no re­ports of dam­age. About a dozen other waves were recorded else­where on the north­east coast, ac­cord­ing to the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Agency, but they were smaller than ini­tial warn­ings of waves as high as 3.0 me­ters. The big­gest, mea­sur­ing 1.4 me­ters, hit the port at Sendai north of Fukushima, but of­fi­cials said there were no re­ports of dam­age there.

NHK aired rolling cov­er­age of the earthquake, with the words “Tsunami! Flee!” in white let­ter­ing over a bright red band on the screen. The Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Agency lifted its fi­nal tsunami warn­ing nearly seven hours af­ter the earthquake struck. TEPCO ear­lier re­ported that a water cool­ing sys­tem at a re­ac­tor in the sep­a­rate Fukushima Daini fa­cil­ity had briefly stopped, in an au­to­matic re­sponse, but that it was back up and op­er­at­ing. “The big­gest risk now is a case whereby con­tam­i­nated water is car­ried away with the tsunami, which pol­lutes the en­vi­ron­ment,” TEPCO’s chief de­com­mis­sion­ing of­fi­cer Nao­hiro Ma­suda told re­porters, of the sit­u­a­tion at Fukushima Dai­ichi.

The 2011 dis­as­ter sent ra­di­a­tion lev­els across the Pa­cific Ocean soar­ing and dec­i­mated some fish­ing grounds off Ja­pan’s coast. The global Sci­en­tific Com­mit­tee on Oceanic Re­search said in July that lev­els were re­turn­ing to nor­mal but that the seabed and har­bor near Fukushima were still highly con­tam­i­nated. Res­i­dents along the coast heed­ing evac­u­a­tion ad­vice clogged some roads, with a Fukushima news­pa­per re­port­ing un­usual early morn­ing traf­fic jams in the small city of Soma. There were no im­me­di­ate signs of wide­spread dam­age and only mi­nor in­juries were ini­tially re­ported. Four­teen in­juries have been re­ported through­out the re­gion, in­clud­ing three el­derly women who broke bones when fall­ing or try­ing to evac­u­ate.

‘Ground still shak­ing’

Still, peo­ple along the coast were badly shaken. “It was huge and lasted so long,” Akemi An­zai, from the city of Mi­nami­soma north of the Fukushima plant, said of the quake. “The tsunami siren warn­ing can be heard from the coast­line,” she said. “The ground is still shak­ing. I’m so scared. But my con­cern is rather the sit­u­a­tion at the nu­clear plant.” The United States Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said the 6.9 mag­ni­tude quake, at a shal­low depth of 11.3 kilo­me­ters, struck shortly be­fore 6:00 am in the Pa­cific off Fukushima.

It shook build­ings in Tokyo, 230 kilo­me­ters to the south. Shinkansen bul­let train ser­vices were sus­pended in the re­gion but grad­u­ally re­sumed, though de­lays were still be­ing re­ported. Sendai air­port, which suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant dam­age dur­ing the 2011 tsunami, tem­po­rar­ily closed but flights re­sumed in the morn­ing. Fish­ing boats had rushed out to sea to avoid the di­rect im­pact of the tsunami, the Sankei Shim­bun said.

NHK showed footage of what ap­peared to be sea­wa­ter flow­ing up a river in Miyagi pre­fec­ture though none of it surged be­yond the banks. “The fear that I felt al­most six years ago came back,” Junko Mu­rata, an­other Mi­nami­soma res­i­dent said. “Maybe there won’t be ma­jor dam­age this time but we will have to re­main on edge for years and years,” she added, re­fer­ring to the Fukushima plant. Ja­pan sits at the junc­tion of four tec­tonic plates and suf­fers sev­eral rel­a­tively vi­o­lent quakes ev­ery year, al­though high build­ing stan­dards and fre­quent drills limit the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties. In April two strong quakes hit Ku­mamoto pre­fec­ture, leav­ing at least 50 dead and caus­ing wide­spread dam­age.

MIYAGI PRE­FEC­TURE: Water flows up in the Su­naoshi River in Ta­gajo, Miyagi pre­fec­ture, north­ern Ja­pan, as a tsunami warn­ing is is­sued fol­low­ing a strong earthquake yes­ter­day.— AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.