One of the largest earthquakes since 1900 hit Japan today and triggered a powerful, 4 meter high, tsunami which crashed across the eastern coastline of the country, causing wholesale destruction as people, cars, ships and boats have been swept away. Reports confirm that at least 44 people have been killed but it is expected that these numbers will rise greatly as eyewitness accounts confirm that at least one cruise ship, with over 100 people on it, was overpowered by the waves.
TV images reveal waves of water and debris have been moving across the coast, rural areas and sweeping into cities. Further images of boats and ships crashed against bridges, bypasses and against each other show the immediate extent of the damage that the infrastructure in Japan faces as a result of this disaster.
Video and live reports:
The Telegraph accounts
that fires have broken out at the Onagawa nuclear plant in the Miyagi prefecture, which is one of areas most badly effected by the tsunami, and that an emergency core-cooling unit has been activated at the Fukushima plant in Kyodo.
So far there have been no reported radiation leaks however many fires are burning out of control across the coast including one at an oil refinery in Ichinara city.
According to The Independent an alert was issued
to countries and islands in the Pacific area that further tsunamis could hit them. Fifty countries are thought to be affected and the main concern is for low lying islands in the Pacific. California, Hawaii and Oregon have been included in the warnings from the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. More can be read here.
Fears of a great disaster have been realised as hundreds of bodies have been found along the Japanese coastline following the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan last night. Hundreds more have been reported as missing. Powerful after shocks are continuing to hit Japan, some of which have been recorded at least 6.3, the level of the earthquake that hit New Zealand last week.
Link to livestream on the Oregon coast:
Hat tip to Wes in Oregon.
Further devastation in Japan as CNN reports that a dam has burst in the Fukushima area. The dam is nearby the nuclear power station which has malfunctioned following the activation of an emergency cooling unit. Officials do not think that there will be any serious danger as a result of the malfunction.
hat tip to older_wiser
A CNN reporter has twittered
that Japan’s trade minister, Banri Kaieda, says that a small leak could occur at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. More than 3,000 people living in the area surrounding the power plant have been ordered to evacuate the immediate area.
According to the Kyodo News Agency Yukio Edano said ” We have a situation where one of the reactors (of the plant) cannot be cooled down.” The Chief Cabinet secretary said the evacuation instruction was precautionary.
Edano said: No radiation has leaked outside the reactor. the incident poses no danger to the environment at the moment.” He also said early Saturday in Tokyo the incident was under control.
Another reporter, Steve Herman Bureau Chief of Voice of America, just twittered that nuclear “radiation levels at the plant are rising.”
Kyodo news advises that it has been told that radiation is rising in the turbine building and the pressure has risen to 1.5 times the designed capacity.
Yahoo news reports:
Experts said there could be leakage if water levels in the Fukushima reactor fell and the temperature of the nuclear rods rose, though this might not happen immediately.
“Even if fuel rods are exposed, it does not mean they would start melting right away,” said Tomoko Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics.
“Even if fuel rods melt and the pressure inside the reactor builds up, radiation would not leak as long as the reactor container functions well.”
TEPCO confirmed that water levels were falling but it was working to avert any exposure of the nuclear fuel rods.
“There is a falling trend (in water levels) but we have not confirmed an exposure of nuclear fuel rods,” a TEPCO spokesman said.”
BBC has a good video report which explains the problems in Fukushima. Says that the bottom line is that nuclear engineers at Fukushima can’t be sure that they will be able to contain the situation there.