An 8.9 Earthquake rocked Japan on Friday afternoon. It was the fifth largest earthquake since 1900. Massive damage across much of the country as fires, floods and damage take its toll. Tsunami warnings were raised around the Pacific ocean as countries from Russia, Canada, the United States, Taiwan, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Chile and even as far as New Zealand have been put on alert.
The largest earthquake in Japanese history struck the island nation at mid afternoon on a spring day. Skyscrapers moved. Fire struck in various parts of the country. People rushed out of office buildings, and people cleared airports. Japan’s nuclear plants went on automatic shutdown.
Half an hour later, tweets on Japan would clock at 1,200 tweets per minute. Photos of burning buildings soon found their way to the web. Links to live streams pop’d out of the web.
At Miyagi prefecture, the closest to the epicenter, a tsunami struck dealing a devastating second punch. On television, video would catch a 10 meter wave slam hard on the Japanese coastline. It was surreal watching cars, boats and planes swept aside like toys. Houses fell like lego buildings being cleaned up by a broom. It was as if some invisible hand was done playing with it. It was like watching a disaster movie, only this time lives were surely lost.
Images of the tragedy filled the web, just as alerts rang out across the planet. 7.9 magnitude was the first report. Minutes later 8.8. No. It would be 8.9. The United States Geological Survey would alter reveal that the Japanese Earthquake would be 900 times as powerful as the Earthquake San Francisco experienced in 1989. And as powerful as the earthquake that struck Chile in 2010.
The Japanese coast had moved 2.4 meters, permanently.
Tsunami alarms raced across the nations around the Pacific. Russia was the first to evacuate their citizens. Taiwan. The Philippines. Guam. Down under in Australia, and New Zealand alerts were raised. North America was not spared. Hawaii was quickly put on notice to prepare for a tsunami. As far as the Great White North of Canada, and along the North American coastline of California, Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, evacuation orders were called. South America’s Chile also received tsunami warnings and as far as Africa, alerts were raised.
The Earth’s axis shifted ten inches.
It is a testament to Japanese engineering that its buildings stood up to the Earthquake, and the 100+ greater than 5.0 magnitude aftershocks that have since occurred. The Japanese have lived with Earthquakes, and their attention to Japanese earthquake engineering, together with training on how to respond to such tragedies must have saved countless millions of lives. That isn’t to say the devastation is no less heartbreaking and staggering. It is to say, it could have been far worst than images of cars, boats and small aircraft being swept aside by the onslaught of water. It could be far worst to see airports underwater, or houses swept aside like an invisible hand done with playing with toys.
Remarkably, Internet didn’t fail. Friends and family from around the world, worried for their loved ones, though unable to reach them via phone, were able to get in touch with them via social networking sites, and via the Internet.
The death toll is still up in the air as the Japanese pick up the pieces of their shattered nation.
Japanese authorities now say that there is a high possibility of a meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear reactor as a perfect storm of system catastrophes seem to push it to the edge. The fallout not just from the radiation, could affect the nuclear reactor manufacturers for decades to come, and could seriously hinder nuclear reactor development.
Now the world watches, and waits, as the Japanese people pickup the pieces of their lives. We will not know the extent of the damage for days to come. What’s clear is that millions were saved by the Japanese engineering prowess, and government codes as well as a lifetime in earthquake training and preparedness. A far less prepared, less wealthy nation would grind to a halt. Victory is in the preparation. For Japan, it saved a lot of lives.
Photos: Kyoto via Reuters/AP
What follows is the original live blog of the events of the Japanese earthquake as it unfolded.
update-30: Tsunami warning lifted in the Philippines.
Update-28: BBC is reporting on the official Kyodo news agency is reporting that about 88,000 people are missing.
BBC also noted that “Houses and other buildings are also ablaze across large swathes of land in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, near Sendai, footage broadcast by Japanese TV shows. The city has a population of 74,000.”
Update-25: Japanese defense force ordered to fly to Kyodo nuclear plant.
Update-22: Kyodo residents asked to evacuate as cooling functions in Fukushima nuclear plant are not working.
Reuters say Crescent City likely to see largest tsunami — California Emergency Agency.
Queen of England issues statement. “Is saddened by that tragic loos of life caused by the Earthquake which has struck North East Japan today. Prince Philip joins me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to Your Majesty and the people of Japan.”
Update-20: Live images from Japan.
Here are some Japanese quake images:
and another one:
via this pic.
Update-19: Live Webcams around Tokyo.
Update-16: Tsunami hits Taiwan, no major impact.
Fires from Sendai Airport in Japan:
Update-15: Taiwan monitors for Tsunami:
Update-13: Japanese Nuclear plants closest to Earthquake epicenter shut down properly.
Update-12: Japanese death toll now at 23:
Update-11 More footage from Japan:
via lafordia123 on youtube
Japan Hit By Tsunami 2011 Aerial View_telugutouch.com
via touchversion on youtube
Update-9: Map of Areas in Philippines where Tsunami is likely to hit.
Update-8: Live Stream via NHK on Japan earthquake. Subway and train services suspended. Flights to japan suspended. If you’re trying to reach friends and relatives in Japan, but can’t because phones are down, try Facebook, and social networks.
Update-7: Tweet-o-Meter registered 1,200 tweets per minute on Japanese earthquake news, this less than half an hour as the quake knocked out Japan’s phone system.
Update 6: Japan PM says damage is widespread. Nuclear plants have automatically shutdown. Tsunami have reached 150 kilometers in land.
video by ProducerMatthew on Youtube.
United States Geological Survey (USGS) concurrently says that it was a 7.9 earthquake. It was located near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. It is 382 kilometers from Tokyo.
“Japan, Russia, Marcus Is., N. Marianas A Tsunami Watch is in Effect For Guam, Wake Is., Taiwan, Yap, Philippines, Marshall Is., Belau, Midway Is., Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Hawaii.”