Situation Report: Disaster in Japan
Posted: Mar 11, 2011 8:51 AM ET
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2011 11:18 AM ETVodpod videos no longer available.
What: A magnitude 8.9 earthquake, the biggest quake to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s, struck off Japan’s northeast coast Friday at 2:46 p.m. local time. It triggered a tsunami that swallowed homes, swept away boats and cars and forced people to scramble to higher ground. At least 200 people were killed and dozens were reported missing after the quake, which was followed by at least 19 aftershocks.
Where: The quake struck at a depth of 24 kilometres, about 125 kilometres off the eastern coast of Japan. The massive wave it triggered reportedly swamped dikes in Japan’s northeast, leaving a massive trail of debris. Dozens of cities and villages along the 2,100 kilometre stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of kilometres from the quake’s epicentre. Waves of muddy waters swept over farmland near the city of Sendai, carrying buildings far inland, sometimes on fire, as frantic residents attempted to drive away. Sendai airport, north of Tokyo, was inundated with cars, trucks, buses and thick mud deposited on its runways. Fires spread through a section of the city, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Local reaction:Japan’s Defence Ministry is sending troops, utility aircraft and helicopters to the region.
Nuclear worries:There is some concern about the stability of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in north-central Japan, as workers there are having trouble cooling the reactor. The plant was shut down after the quake hit, but authorities are asking nearby residents to evacuate, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
Canadian impact:The B.C. coast remained on a tsunami advisory Friday. Canadian officials at the Embassy of Canada in Tokyo are working with Japanese authorities to determine whether any Canadians have been injured in the earthquake or tsunami, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to Japan’s Ambassador to Canada around 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday, offering Canada’s assistance.
Global impact: Tsunami watches and warnings were issued for major stretches of the Pacific, including the west coasts of South America, the United States and Canada. A wave measuring an estimated 50 centimetres is expected to hit parts of British Columbia at around 6:30 am PT, though little to no impact was anticipated in the major cities of Vancouver and Victoria.
- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Laureen said in a statement that their “thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families who have lost their loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. Canada will stand by the people of Japan during this difficult moment.”
- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all pledged assistance to Japan