2011/03/11

【東日本大震災・発生日】被害状況 Summary ※Nuclear fears rise after devastating quake 東北地方太平洋沖地震について

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■Nuclear fears rise after devastating quake

Japan struggled to come to terms with the devastation caused by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the country as international concern focused on the state of affected nuclear power plants and the possibility of a radiation leak.

The quake triggered a tsunami that devastated parts of Japan’s north-eastern coast and set off warnings as far away as California and Chile. A wall of water washed over coastal towns, carrying whole communities with it. Domestic media said the death toll was expected to exceed 1,000 people.

At the Fukushima Daiichi plant, some 240km north of Tokyo, the authorities were struggling to stop pressure rising in one of six reactors..............

The disaster was triggered by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the country's most powerful since records began.

Japan's military has mobilised thousands of troops, hundreds of planes and dozens of ships.

The government has declared a state of emergency at five nuclear reactors as cooling systems failed.



The tremor struck in the afternoon local time on Friday at a depth of about 24km, 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

It was nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, scientists said.

About 300 people are known to have died and more than 500 are missing. Japanese media says the death toll will exceed 1,000.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan was to hold an emergency cabinet meeting early on Saturday, before visiting the disaster zone by helicopter.

The country's military has mobilised thousands of troops, 300 planes and 40 ships for the relief effort.

US President Barack Obama said a US aircraft carrier was already in Japan, and another was on the way.



The quake triggered a tsunami up to 10m (30ft), with waves of 7m battering the Japanese coast.

A muddy torrent of water swept cars and homes far inland, turning residential areas and paddy fields into a lagoon of debris-filled sea water.

One of the worst-hit areas was the port city of Sendai, in Miyagi prefecture, where up to 300 bodies have been found in one ward alone.

Japan Railways said it could not trace four trains along the north-eastern coast. A ship carrying 100 people was also reported missing.

Swathes of Kesennuma, in Miyagi prefecture, have burned into the night, while one-third of the city was said to be under water.

Some 1,800 homes were reported to have been destroyed in the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture.

And a dam burst in north-eastern Fukushima prefecture, sweeping away homes, Kyodo news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities declared a state of emergency at five reactors at the Fukushima I and II plants, as cooling systems failed because of the earthquake.

They also warned there could be small radiation leaks as steam was released from the reactors, where pressure was reported to be considerably higher than normal.

It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt, I thought I would die”

More than 50 aftershocks - many of them more than magnitude 6.0 - have rattled the country.

"It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt. I thought I would die," said Sayaka Umezawa, a 22-year-old student who was visiting the port of Hakodate.

In central Tokyo, a number of office workers have spent the night in their offices because the lifts stopped working.

Millions of commuters were stranded overnight, while others walked home, after train services were suspended.

At least 20 people were injured in Tokyo when the roof of a hall collapsed on to a graduation ceremony.

The tsunami rolled across the Pacific at the speed of a jetliner but had weakened before it hit Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas in the states of California, Oregon and Washington.

A port in Oregon is reported to have been seriously damaged by the waves.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, a tsunami warning extended across the Pacific to North and South America, where many other coastal regions were evacuated.

But the alert was later lifted in most parts, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and China.

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■Lessons learnt from Kobe quake


Japan has seen nothing quite like it since 1995. Back then, when the devastating Kobe earthquake struck, at 5:46 on the morning of January 17, the country still felt invincible. Though the Japanese bubble had long ago burst, most Japanese had not yet reconciled themselves to the years of gentle decline that were to follow. The years of Japan as the wonder economy that would shortly overhaul the US to become Number One felt much closer. The Kobe earthquake, which killed 6,500 and caused some of the country’s supposed engineering miracles to crumble into dust, shattered those illusions.

The sight of Japan’s supposedly earthquake-proof buildings and flyovers buckling under the force of an earthquake sent a psychological shockwave through the nation. That sense of vulnerability was compounded two months later when, in March, members of Aum Shinrikyo, a religious cult, sprinkled sarin gas on the Tokyo subway, killing 13 people and seriously injuring hundreds more. Haruki Murakami, the novelist who interviewed victims of that attack for his book Underground, said the combined effect of Japan being pummelled by nature and by enemies within made 1995 the country’s most traumatic year since the war.



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