8.9 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, causes tsunami

A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in northern Japan early on Friday. The earthquake’s epicenter is 130 km (81 miles) east of Sendai, in the Honshu island of Japan. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter was at a depth of 24.4 km (15.2 miles). 29 people are reported dead. (www.bbc.co.uk)

The earthquake triggered tsunamis in various parts of the country. Japan issued a tsunami warning immediately after the earthquake, followed by tsunami warnings for New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Guam, Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Hawaii, Northern Marianas (USA) and Taiwan. It is confirmed for the Philippines that if the tsunami doesn’t hit the country for 2 hours (5:00 – 7:00) it will be slightly safer, it is currently alert number two for all regions.

Effect of 2011 Sendai earthquake in Tokyo

The tsunami attained a height of 10 meters, and swept houses, buildings and cars according to reports. Shinkansen stopped the bullet train service following the quake. According to reports, an oil refinery was set ablaze by the quake at Ichihara, Chiba prefecture to the east of Tokyo.

The National Weather Service said that earthquakes “of this size” often “generate tsunamis potentially dangerous to coasts outside the source region.” “Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” it added.

Sendai earthquake - Refinery fire.

About 20 people were reportedly injured in Tokyo following the collapse of a roof of a hall. 4 million people are estimated to be without power in the capital. In Sendai, several people are feared to be buried under the remains of a collapsed hotel.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said there had been no nuclear plant radiation leaks caused by the disaster. He expressed sympathy to all victims in his address, promising help, and stating that an emergency response headquarters had been set up. No death toll has been confirmed yet. The disaster is currently being broadcasted world wide in lots of local channels and international cable ones like CNN, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and a lot more. Japanese, and other eastern sian countries’ officials are devastated by this.

 

Magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits New Zealand’s South Island; dozens dead

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the South Island of New Zealand at 12:51 PM local time on Tuesday (Monday 23:51 UTC). At least 32 people have been killed. Earlier, Prime Minister John Key advised media of 65 deaths from collapsing buildings in central Christchurch, with more expected, but the number was cut in half because police have only been able to confirm the deaths of 32 people. The spire of the iconic Anglican ChristChurch Cathedral has fallen and rubble is strewn throughout the central business district. Roads and carparks have cracked and lifted, and two buses are reported to be crushed under the bus exchange. Pools of mud have erupted due to burst water mains and liquefaction. Boulders and falling cliff faces have destroyed buildings on hillside suburbs. Fears for the safety of nearby towns Lyttleton and Akaroa are exacerbated due to communication problems.

The Pico Wholefood building in Christchurch was badly damaged by the earthquake. Image: Schwede66.

The earthquake was centered near Christchurch, at a depth of five kilometers, according to the United States Geological Survey. Unlike previous quakes in the region that caused no fatalities, Tuesday quake was shallower and closer to the central city and the damage was much worse. Condemned buildings, weakened by last year’s widespread earthquakes, were destroyed. Some aftershocks have occurred in the area after the earthquake. The largest so far was a magnitude 5.6 which occurred at 7:04 p.m. February 21 EDT (1:04:18 p.m. local time, February 22). The historic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch has half collapsed, while the old Canterbury Provincial Chambers building, Piko Wholefoods, Canterbury Television, and a church on Durham Street have been destroyed.

The earthquake also caused an estimated 30 million tons of ice to break off of the Tasman Glacier forming icebergs in a lake near its foot. Tourists on boats at the time of the quake say waves of 3.5 meters swept the lake for at least 30 minutes following the event. The glacier sits on the country’s west coast, approximately 120 miles (200km) from Christchurch. No injuries were reported.

Many people are trapped in damaged buildings or under rubble, but emergency services have been hampered by gridlock as motorists and pedestrians evacuated the CBD. The main hospital remains operational despite one damaged ward being closed, and three triage centres have been set up to provide medical aid. Several hundred delegates attending a medical conference in the city, the great majority from Australia, have been trapped in the city; some of these are assisting with tending to the injured.

Electricity, telephone services, and traffic lights suffered widespread outages. Telecom is attempting to assess the damage, and generators have been sent down from Auckland to replace the backup generators in the city. Civil Defence is mounting a response with all available national resources, and Cabinet is holding an emergency session. Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Mayor Bob Parker said he was “thrown quite a distance”, that there were scenes of “great confusion” on the streets, and that the quake was “as violent as the one that happened on the 4th of September”. The emergency telephone code, 111 was not working for the entire region of Southland, New Zealand but is apparently stable as of approx. 4 pm NZDT. Christchurch Airport is currently closed to all but emergency flights. Speaking after the earthquake, Bob Parker said at least 200 people are believed trapped under rubble, saying that New Zealand are “going to be presented with statistics that are going to be bleak”.

Nine dead after small plane crashes in New Zealand

Nine people died in New Zealand after a small tourist plane crashed on Saturday afternoon on the West Coast of the South Island, killing all on board. The aircraft, a Fletcher FU24 owned by a local sky diving company, crashed and caught fire at 13:15 local time soon after taking off from the Fox Glacier Airport to carry out tandem skydiving over the Fox Glacier. The cause of the accident is not yet known, but the plane banked, dipped, smashed nose-first into the ground, and burst into flames.

PAC Fletcher Aircraft

There were four overseas tourists on the plane, from Australia, England, Germany, and Ireland. The five New Zealanders were the pilot and four divemasters. Police spokeswoman Detective Sergeant Jackie Adams said that the victims were so badly burned that members of the police disaster team had to be called in to assist. She was trying to track a group of tourists who were to have gone on the flight, but wanted to go together as a group so let those who died go ahead of them.

Franz Josef glacier, as photographed from the valley floor.

The plane crash was the worst in New Zealand for nearly 17 years. The regional coroner Richard McElrea was travelling to the crash scene to begin inquiries, and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission has dispatched a team of six investigators. The probes may take a year to complete. There was a similar crash near Fox Glacier when a helicopter crashed killing seven people in October 1994, and a crash near the nearby Franz Josef Glacier in October 1993 which killed 9 people. Because of the earthquake in Christchurch the bodies had to be sent to the Auckland morgue rather than the nearer Christchurch morgue.

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