Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami: News and Analysis

The news channels have been dominated by coverage of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, which, as of 10am (GMT) Saturday, had cost the lives of at least 413 people, with a further 784 missing and 1,128 injured.

The news channels have been dominated by coverage of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, which, as of 10am (GMT) Saturday, had cost the lives of at least 413 people, with a further 784 missing and 1,128 injured. The final death toll is expected to exceed 1,300. More than 200,000 people have fled to emergency shelters and around 50,000 rescuers are working to save lives. Here is a 12.30pm summary of the last 36 hours of news and analysis: 

The earthquake took place at 5.46am on 11 March GMT, 2.46pm local time, 81 miles east of the Japanese city of Sendai on the main island of Honshu,  at between 8.9 and 9.1 on the moment magnitude scale. A number of foreshocks building up to the main earthquake had been registered in the two days prior to the main incident. Aftershocks of decreasing magnitude have been felt since.  It is a ‘megathrust earthquake’, where one tectonic plate is forced beneath another, which typically create the earthquakes of the greatest magnitude. A seperate earthquake was registered in Nagano in central Honshu at 6.59pm GMT on 11 March, causing several aftershocks.                               

The tsunami caused by the earthquake resulted in waves as high as 10 metres hitting Sendai itself, floooding its airport and carrying with it cars and buildings. It has also inundated vast tracts of farmland. In other areas of Japan the wave was as high as five metres. The tsunami also affected countries right situated in and around the Pacific Ocean, with a state of emergency being called in Ecuador and two metre waves being recorded in Maui, Hawaii. There has been one recorded fatality on the American west coast, after the Tsunami hit at 8.19pm (GMT) on March 11.

Recorded damage in Japan included more than a million households losing water supplies,  the loss of electricity supplies to more than four million households, the failure of a large dam to the south of Sendai leading to the destruction of thousands of homes. An oil refinery was set on fire east of Tokyo, and 20,000 passengers were stranded at railway stations. Mobile and landline services were heavily disrupted. One-third of  the 70,000-strong city of Kesennuma was submerged by fires.  

The Japanese government declared a nuclear state of emergency after the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant experienced an explosion and the cooling system failed. Levels of radiation inside the plant were recorded at 1,000 times normal levels, and outside the plant are up to eight times more than statutory limits. Cooling systems also failed at Fukushima 2 nuclear power plant and a fire recorded at Onagawa nuclear power plant. The Fukushima plants are around 40 years old. Civilian evacuations have been organised within 12 miles of the Fukushima 1 plant, and two miles of the Fukishima 2 plant

There are no recorded British casualities at present. The Japanese government has requested assistance from the UK, which may take the form of search and rescue teams or victim indentification efforts. The Disaster Emergency Committee has not declared an appeal open, as their Japanese partners have not requested one.

Eyewitness accounts can be found here, here and here. Analysis of the nuclear situation can be found here and hereHere is a selection of Reuters pictures showing scenes of devastation.

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