Strong quake trig­gers Fukushima tsunami

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A POW­ER­FUL 6.9-mag­ni­tude earth­quake hit north­east Ja­pan yes­ter­day, spark­ing panic and trig­ger­ing a tsunami in­clud­ing a 1-me­tre 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 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 said a 1-me­tre wave had hit the coast at the fa­cil­ity, but a com­pany spokesper­son said there were no re­ports of dam­age.

About a dozen other waves were recorded else­where on the north­east coast, according to the Metero­log­i­cal Agency, but they were smaller than ini­tial warn­ings of waves as high as 3 me­tres.

The big­gest, mea­sur­ing 1.4 me­tres, 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 Metero­log­i­cal Agency lifted its fi­nal tsunami warn­ing nearly seven hours af­ter the earth­quake struck.

TEPCO 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 har­bour near Fukushima were still 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 try­ing to evac­u­ate.

The quake shook build­ings in Tokyo, 230 kilo­me­tres to the south.

Shinkansen bullet train ser­vices were sus­pended in the re­gion but grad­u­ally re­sumed.

NHK showed footage of what ap­peared to be sea­wa­ter flow­ing up a river in Miyagi pre­fec­ture though none of it surged be­yond the banks.

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. –

Photo: AFP

Of­fi­cers at the Fukushima pre­fec­tural of­fice gather data fol­low­ing the earth­quake that hit the pre­fec­ture yes­ter­day.

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