The largest earthquake to ever hit Japan, an 8.9-magnitude ‘struck off the coast of Japan today.
The quake triggered a “devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country and set off warnings as far away as the West Coast of the United States and South America.”
The earthquake and tsunami struck in deadly tandem, unleashing scenes of horror throughout northern Japan. First came the roar and rumble of the earthquake shaking skyscrapers, toppling furniture and buckling highways. Then walls of water rushed onto shore, whisking away cars and carrying blazing buildings toward factories, fields and highways…
The survey said that Friday’s quake was centered off the coast of Honshu, the most populous of the Japanese islands, at a point about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo and a depth of about 17 miles below the earth’s surface.
The quake occurred at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time, and was so powerful that buildings in central Tokyo, designed to withstand major earthquakes, swayed.
A power outage from the quake also “disabled a nuclear reactor’s cooling system, triggering evacuation orders for about 3,000 residents as the government declared its first-ever state of emergency at a nuclear plant.”
If the outage in the cooling system persists, eventually radiation could leak out into the environment, and, in the worst case, could cause a reactor meltdown, a nuclear safety agency official said on condition of anonymity, citing sensitivity of the issue.
Underscoring grave concerns about the Fukushima plant some 150 miles north of Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. Air Force had delivered coolant to try to lower the temperature of the facility’s nuclear rods.
The NY Times has noted that Japan’s strick building codes has no doubt saved lives. There are lessons to be learned for this quake here in the U.S. and I hope nuclear energy proponents will see this potential meltdown in Japan as a wake up call for building more nuclear plants here in the U.S..
I lived in Los Angeles during the Northridge quake. I simply can not comprehend riding out an 8.9.
The Lede has an ongoing thread on the catastrophe and I will try to post more updates on the Japan quake through the day and evening. Stay tuned…