Tsunami fears subside after Japan quake

By Doug Newhouse |

(UPDATE No.5: 17.15 GMT): While tsunami alerts are still valid for the US Coast and secondary waves may still materialise in the Pacific Ocean, the worst seems to have passed after just one-metre of water flooded Waikiki beach this afternoon and subsequently subsided. This is in stark contrast to the earlier 10m wave that hit northern Japan following the 8.9 richter scale earthquake today. Currently, the official estimated death toll in Japan has now risen to between 200 to 300. Both Narita and Haneda airports were also closed today.

Better news is that in TREND’s latest update at 17.15 (GMT) today, tsunami alerts have now been lifted in most locations, including the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, China and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Japanese media reported this morning (European time) that this is the biggest earthquake to hit Japan for 140 years, with very strong tremors causing considerable damage in central Tokyo, where Narita and Haneda airports were both closed for the day for damage inspection. More than ten ‘after shocks’ up to level six on the richter scale have also been recorded in Japan throughout the day.

Earlier today, coastal areas in northern Japan that were hit by 500mph tidal waves some 10-metres high have been devastated. The location of Sendai – some 300km away from Tokyo – was one of the worst places to be hit with the tsunami covering miles of farmland, destroying housing and literally burying the airport. Millions of Japanese are also reported to be without any power.

The tremor hit at 1446 local time (0546 GMT) causing buildings in Tokyo to sway and rupturing power lines and causing some fires. Public transport services were also suspended.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan appeared on television earlier today to call for calm, while extending his condolences to the families of those who are known to have lost their lives. Various nations have also offered help and assistance to the Japanese Government, including the US and UK.

 

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