On Friday, March 11, 2011 at 05:46:23 UTC an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, one of the top 5 quakes recorded in the last 100 years, has hit Japan. The quake struck just under 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo, followed by aftershocks as strong as 7.1 magnitude.
The damage caused by Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami has caused Japan to come to an almost complete stop.
A huge tsunami spawned by the magnitude-8.9 earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, struck Japan's eastern coast, killing hundreds of people, according to the Associated Press. Hours later, the tsunami hit Hawaii and warnings blanketed the Pacific, putting areas on alert as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.
Located in the North Pacific off the coast of Russia and the Korean peninsula Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" - an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching around the Pacific where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur. The area of Japan is 377,873km, which makes it slightly smaller in land mass than California. Japan consists of four main larger islands and more than 4000 smaller islands. The main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Honshu is the largest with an area of 231,000km. There are over 127,078,679 (July 2009 est.) people living in Japan.
The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (7M) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0. Dr Musson, head of seismic hazard at the British Geological Survey said: "After an earthquake of this size, invariably the aftershocks take quite a while to die down. So we will be seeing more earthquakes."
Nuclear Power-plant Explosion:
The power plants, known as Daiichi and Daini and operated by Tokyo Electric Power, experienced critical failures of the backup generators needed to power cooling systems after the plants were shut down, as they were during the quake.
Japanese officials issued broad evacuation orders on Saturday for people living near two nuclear power plants whose cooling systems broke down as a result of the earthquake. The officials warned that small amounts of radioactive material were likely to leak from the plants.
Today (Saturday) the New York Times reports: Government officials said that the explosion, caused by a build-up of pressure in the reactor after the cooling system failed, destroyed the concrete structure surrounding the reactor but did not collapse the critical steel container inside. They said that raised the chances that they could prevent the release of large amounts of radioactive material and could avoid a core meltdown at the plant. At least 11 of Japan's 52 nuclear power reactors are currently shut down.
Earth's Axis Shifted Due to Quake:
Early reports state the earthquake may have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis. Initial results out of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology show that the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled Japan Friday shifted the earth's rotation axis by about 25 centimeters.
Past Major Earthquakes in Japan:
A tremor occurs in Japan at least every five minutes, and each year there are up to 2,000 quakes that can be felt by people.
The Great Kanto earthquake on September 1, 1923, had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.
On January 16, 1995, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit central Japan. It was the worst earthquake to hit Japan in 50 years, killing more than 6,400 and causing an estimated $100 billion in damage.
On Oct. 23, 2004, a 6.8-magnitude quake struck the Niigata region, about 250 kilometers north of Tokyo, killing 65 people and injuring 3,000.
On March 25, 2007, a 6.9-magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, about 300 kilometers west of Tokyo, killing one person, injuring more than 200 and destroying hundreds of homes.
On July 16, 2007, a 6.8-magnitude quake struck Niigata prefecture, about 250 kilometers north-west of Tokyo, killing 11 people and injuring 1,950. The tremor caused radiation leaks at the world's largest nuclear plant, which officials said were within safety regulations and posed no threat to the environment. The leaks nonetheless reignited fears about nuclear safety in the quake-prone country.
Local Japan Emergency Phone Numbers:
171 + 1 + line phone number to leave a message
171 + 2 + line phone number to listen to the message
Early estimates show Japan will suffer more than $10 billion in losses due to damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northern part of the country. Many organizations and funds have mobilized to provide relief to those affected by the disaster.
A huge relief operation has swung into action to help those affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The military has mobilized thousands of troops, 300 planes and 40 ships.
International Medical Corps - Is responding to the health needs of the disaster's victims by putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities, said Nancy Aossey, President & CEO, International Medical Corps. "While Japan has a large capacity to manage a disaster of this scale, we will respond as needed." To donate or learn about other ways you can contribute to its medical response, visit Internationalmedicalcorps.org. Also, text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.
The Red Cross - Has already launched efforts in Japan. Visit Redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.
World Vision - Has deployed an assessment team in Japan in the wake of Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which occurred near Japan's east coast. The team, made up of staff in World Vision's Japan office, will travel to the affected areas to assess the needs of survivors and prepare supplies and programs to serve those left homeless. World Vision plans to establish one or more child friendly spaces. These sites are designed for children affected by disasters, and allow them to resume normal childhood activities and experience structure and security that are often lost during emergency situations. Providing support to children and their families is central to World Vision's efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters. Visit www.worldvision.ca to learn more about how you can help. Canadians can also text WORLD to 45678 on their cell phones to make a donation to World Vision Canada.