Major Tsunami Devastates Japan

Written on March 11, 2011 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Asia

Huge Quake and Tsunami Hit Japan

A huge earthquake struck Japan on Friday, churning up a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland along the northern part of the country and threatened coastal areas throughout the Pacific.

Walls of water whisked away houses and cars in northern Japan, where terrified residents fled the coast. 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. A fire broke out at the nuclear plant in Onagawa, but Japanese officials said it was extinguished.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the disaster caused major damage across wide areas. Several hours after the quake, Kyodo News was reporting 48 deaths, but with rescue efforts just getting under way, the extent of injuries and damage is not yet known.

The United States Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.9, and occurred at about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo and at a revised depth of about 17 miles. The Japanese Meteorological Agency said the quake had a magnitude of 8.8, which would make it 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.

“This tremor was unlike any I’ve experienced previously, and I’ve lived here for eight years. It was a sustained rolling that made it impossible to stand, almost like vertigo,” said Matt Alt, an American writer and translator living in Tokyo.

Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told CNN that residents in Hawaii and the West Coast should prepare for coastal flooding. He said that there was a “full coastal evacuation” underway in Hawaii. Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on March 11, 2011.


Nick Jacobs June 6, 2011 - 11:16 am

Japan has never seen this much devastation in a couple of decades, the worst to happen in recent history. Fortunately, air travel has not been severely compromised, sending aid to this stricken island nation.

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