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Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive earthquake, triggering nuclear crisis

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  • Tsunami hits north-eastern Japan after massive earthquake, triggering nuclear crisis


    March 11, 2011 -- A massive earthquake has hit the northeast of Japan triggering a tsunami that has caused extensive damage. Japan's TV showed cars, ships and even buildings being swept away in the Fukushima prefecture, after the 8.8 magnitude earthquake. Officials said a wave as high as 6m (20ft) could strike the coast. The quake struck about 250 miles (400km) from Tokyo at a depth of 20 miles, shaking building in the capital for several minutes. The tremor at 1446 local time (0546 GMT) was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks.

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    March 11, 2011 -- A series of powerful earthquakes have struck northeast Japan on Friday afternoon, triggering warnings of tsunami as high as 10 metres and shaking buildings in Tokyo. The first earthquake struck at 2:46 pm local time and measured magnitude-8.8, according to the US geological survey. Within 30 minutes the same region was rocked by two more big quakes of slighly lower intensity, Japanese news reports said. The first quake, Japan's biggest for seven years, struck at a depth of six miles about 80 miles of the eastern coast, according to Japan's meteorological agency. The Pacific tsunami warning centre in Hawaii said a tsunami warning was in effect for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii.

    All flights in Japan were grounded immediately after the quake while officials checked for runway damage. Strong tremors were felt in Tokyo about 30 minutes after the quake. Newsreaders in the capital wore helmets as they gave updates, while office workers rushed out of buildings on to the street. Television showed a building on fire in the Odaiba district of Tokyo, although it was not immediately clear if the blaze was connected to the earthquake. Other footage showed water levels rising quickly in the coastal town of Miyako in Iwate prefecture on Japan's northeast Pacific coast. Public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by tsunami in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture. TV news presenters repeatedly warned people on the Pacific coast to head for higher ground.

    The quake is one of several to have struck northeast Japan this week, including one of magnitude 7.3 on Wednesday. In 1933, a magnitude 8.1 quake in the area killed more than 3,000 people. Last year fishing facilities were damaged after by a tsunami caused by a strong tremor in Chile. Japan is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, accounting for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

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        March 11, 2011 -- Australia has been included in an extended tsunami warning recently issued by the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre after a strong earthquake off the coast of Japan. Earlier, the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat to Australia, however the U.S. centre recently extended their warning to countries including Indonesia and as far away as Chile. A massive surge of water has caused swathes of devastation across Japan, after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off shore, prompting a four-metre tsunami. Footage from a helicopter on public broadcaster NHK Japan showed water washing away farms and homes in Miyagi prefecture. Cars could be seen trying to drive away from the rapidly moving water. Debris being swept along by the water had caught fire, with the blaze dragged through the town by the wave. Jiji Press has reported the first death in an area east of Tokyo.

        The quake struck 382km northeast of Tokyo at 2.46pm local time (4.46pm AEDST), and was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, including one of 7.4-magnitude about 30 minutes later. The U.S. Geological Survey rated the strength of the first quake as a magnitude 8.9, while Japan’s meteorological agency measured it at 8.4. Officials have warned of more tsunamis to come. Authorities have not yet been able to provide details on the damage, but the devastation appears widespread. In Miyagi prefecture cars were carried from the surrounding streets into the Sendai airport as the powerful waves tore through the area. Residents could be seen waving for help from the top floor of their homes, with surroundings streets flooded, trapping them inside their homes. An oil refinery in Chiba prefecture near Toyko caught fire, smoke seen billowing from the industrial site. The wave also moved across Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture, sweeping away houses, cars and trucks. A large ship swept away by the tsunami rammed directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture. Scores of cars were shown floating in Iwate prefecture harbour, while the Tokyo Fire department said many people were injured after a roof caved in during a school graduation ceremony at a hall in east Tokyo.

        Bigger and bigger

        Andrew Stevens, an Australian expat working in central Tokyo, told Fairfax Media the earthquake started small but got "bigger and bigger". "(It) shook maybe 2-3 minutes," he said, via email, adding that his mobile phone network was out. Tokyo’s Narita airport shut down, Kyodo News reported. Haneda, the capital’s other main airport, was also closed, NHK said. Tokyo Metro, which has more than 6 million passengers a day, stopped operations on its nine subway lines, while the Shinkansen bullet trains also halted. Tokyo port shut all 19 of its water gates as it prepared for the tsunami. According to NHK Japan, More than 4 million buildings in Tokyo and surrounding areas lost power soon after the quake. The yen tumbled against the dollar after the quake, falling to 83.30 against the dollar from 82.81 before the quake struck. The government has set up an earthquake response team and Minister Naoto Kan returned to his office from parliament to convene his team. Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday.

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            NHK reports emergency cooling power not sufficient for nuclear power plants, Japan's PM to declare nuclear emergency

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              TOKYO, March 11, 2011 (RIA Novosti) -- North-east Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant performed an emergency shut-down on Friday following a massive earthquake, the Kyodo news agency said. Reactor cooling systems shut down at Units 1 and 2 of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the industry ministry said. Japan was hit by a series of powerful quakes on Friday, with two major quakes measuring 8.8 and 7.1 on the Richter scale. The first 8.8-magnitude quake struck off the country's largest Honshu Island's eastern coast, 373 kilometers to the north-east of Tokyo. The second major tremor, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, occurred 505 kilometers to the north-east of Tokyo.

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                March 11, 2011:


                Ominous flash from Kyodo Wire: The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reported an abnormality Friday following a powerful earthquake which hit a wide area in northeastern Japan including Fukushima Prefecture, the industry ministry said. The system to cool reactor cores in case of emergency stopped at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., it said. There are reports that the Japanese PM will declare a nuclear emergency.

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                  TOKYO, March 11, 2011 (Reuters) -- A fire broke out at Tohoku Electric Power Co's Onagawa nuclear plant in northeastern Japan following Friday's major earthquake, Kyodo news agency said. Prior to the Kyodo report, the company had said it had not received information on whether there had been any problems at the nuclear power plant after the disaster. Separately, Fukushima Prefecture, the site of a Tokyo Electric Power nuclear power plant, said on Friday the plant's reactor cooling system was functioning, denying an earlier report that it was malfunctioning. Japanese media reported that the government had decided to declare a nuclear power emergency situation, which occurs if there is confirmation of radioactivity leaks from a nuclear power plant or a reactor cooling system breaks down.

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                            March 11, 2011 -- A fire has broken out in the turbine building of a nuclear plant in the Miyagi prefecture, local news agencies have reported. A fire broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture, the Kyodo News reported. The news has raised concerns of a radioactive leak. Earlier Naoto Kan, the Japanese prime minister, said no radiation leaks had been reported from any of Japan’s nuclear power stations, and four plants closest to the quake had been safely shut down. Reuters adds that Fukushima Prefecture, the site of a Tokyo Electric Power nuclear power plant, said on Friday the plant’s reactor cooling system was functioning, denying an earlier report that it was malfunctioning. Local media reported that the government had declared a nuclear power emergency situation.

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                              TOKYO, March 11, 2011 — Japan's top government spokesman and local administrators say emergencies have been issued at two nuclear power plants over cooling-system fears in the wake of Friday's giant earthquake. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the nuclear power plant in Fukushima developed a mechanical failure in the system needed to cool the reactor after it was shut down after the earthquake. He said there was no radiation leak. Edano said the measure was a precaution and there was no radiation leak at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. He said the facility was not in immediate danger.

                              Meanwhile, an administrator at the Tohoku Electric Power Co's Onagawa facility said the process for the cooling reactor is "not going as planned," adding that "nuclear emergency situation" has been declared. The company asked people nearby to stay calm, the official TV news channel NHK reported. A fire broke out at the plant following the quake, the Kyodo news agency said. Prior to the Kyodo report, the company had said it had not received information on whether there had been any problems at the plant after the disaster.

                              At the Fukushima facility, the site of a Tokyo Electric Power nuclear power plant, a spokesman on Friday that the plant's reactor cooling system was working, denying an earlier report that it was malfunctioning. Miyagi prefecture, where it is located, was one of the areas worst hit by the tsunami. Kyodo also reported that an emergency core-cooling unit had been activated at the Fukushima nuclear plant, without giving further details. The four Japanese nuclear power plants closest to the epicenter of the quake have been safely shut down, the United Nations atomic watchdog said Friday.

                              The quake struck just under 250 miles northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was followed by more than a dozen aftershocks, one as strong as 7.1. Earlier, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the quake caused "major damage" in northeastern Japan, but that nuclear power facilities in the area were not damaged and there was no radiation leakage.

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