16-Mar-2011

Natural Disaster Crisis in Japan

On March 11, 2011 at 2:47pm JST, an 8.9 Richter magnitude scale earthquake hit Japan with the offshore epicenter about 80 miles east of the city of Sendai map. It is the biggest quake in Japan in more than a century and the world's fifth largest since 1900.

Within 15 minutes, the closest points on land were hit by tsunami with the biggest 30-feet high tsunami hitting Sendai at 3:55pm JST.

As if people losing their homes was not bad enough (5.1 million homes destroyed), nuclear power plants continue to pose threats of nuclear meltdown. Evacuations away from the nuclear danger zones caused 590,000 people to be displaced from their homes. Due to the reduction of electrical power from the affected nuclear power plants, rolling blackouts have been applied throughout Japan in order to reduce electricity demand.

devastation   snow   supplies

The areas surrounding the affected nuclear power plants have been evacuated and people have been given potassium iodide tablets which remedies radiation sickness by protecting the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine. Radiation fears remain high.

I have three piano-common-interest friends in Japan as covered in my Handel's Lascia Ch'io Pianga on the piano page. I contacted all three and have heard back from one who is doing fine. I know him as exptginga101 on his YouTube channel.

He tells me he is with his family and they are okay. He lives in west Japan some 700km from the epicenter. The shaking is considerable at his location. North and east Japan are most affected. He tells me Japanese TV is not covering anything else except the disaster on all channels. "It is very painful and sad to see of me."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) introduced the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) which is from 0 (no safety significance) to 7 (major accident). Chernobyl was 7. Three Mile Island was 5. Fukushima was 4 earlier this week but today was raised to a 5. The situation remains critical until the nuclear reactors can be brought to complete stability and control.

Some staggering and mind-boggling facts:

  • Since the 8.9 earthquake there have been some 20 aftershocks in excess of 6.0 magnitude. And many aftershocks in excess of 5.0 magnitude.
  • The main Honshu island of Japan shifted east by 8 feet due to the earthquake.
  • The earth's rotation sped up by 1.6 microseconds, which is time shaved from the day.

It is incredible to see the calm order in Japan amidst absolute distress and chaos. I have seen line-ups under normal conditions more agitated than the patience of the Japanese people waiting in line for food and water. There was a story about the cash register failing at a store and people in line returned the products to the shelves. The dignity of the Japanese people and culture is to be highly praised and admired.


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