Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake, tsunami lead to mass destruction in Japan

The reports coming out of Japan today have been simply awful. (And we can expect more such events as a result of climate change.) Here's the NYT:

TOKYO — Rescuers struggled to reach survivors on Saturday morning as Japan reeled after an earthquake and tsunami struck in deadly tandem. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, set off a devastating tsunami that sent walls of water washing over coastal cities in the north. Concerns mounted over possible radiation leaks from two nuclear plants near the earthquake zone.

The death toll was in the hundreds, but Japanese media quoted government officials as saying that it would almost certainly rise to more than 1,000. About 200 to 300 bodies were found along the water line in Sendai, a port city in the northeastern part of the country and the closest major city to the epicenter.

Thousands of homes were destroyed, many roads were impassible, trains and buses were not running and power and cellphones remained down in the region. Japanese officials on Saturday issued broad evacuation orders for people living in the vicinity of two separate nuclear power plants that had experienced breakdowns in their cooling systems as a result of the earthquake, and warned that small amounts of radiation could leak from both plants. 

It could have been much worse, but Japan was well-prepared for such an event:

While the loss of life and property may yet be considerable, many lives were certainly saved by Japan’s extensive disaster preparedness and strict construction codes. Japan's economy was spared a more devastating blow because the earthquake hit far from its industrial heartland. 

For more on Japan's building codes, see here:

Hidden inside the skeletons of high-rise towers, extra steel bracing, giant rubber pads and embedded hydraulic shock absorbers make modern Japanese buildings among the sturdiest in the world during a major earthquake. And all along the Japanese coast, tsunami warning signs, towering seawalls and well-marked escape routes offer some protection from walls of water.

These precautions, along with earthquake and tsunami drills that are routine for every Japanese citizen, show why Japan is the best-prepared country in the world for the twin disasters of earthquake and tsunami — practices that undoubtedly saved lives, though the final death toll is unknown.

Yes, that's what government can do.

For more on the situation with the two nuclear plants, see here:

Japanese officials issued broad evacuation orders on Saturday for people living near two nuclear power plants whose cooling systems broke down as a result of the earthquake. The officials warned that small amounts of radioactive material were likely to leak from the plants. 

For more on the disaster and its aftermath, see also the BBC, which has extensive coverage. Here's some video from Aljazeera:

And from Russia Today:

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  • Prayers to those who suffered and lost life or are injured.

    By Anonymous Shena, at 12:34 AM  

  • Once Japan goes back on rebuild, oil prices will jump again without most of their nuclear power. They will need lots of raw and building material again. It will be a mini-bull cycle before its economic borrowing cycle hit the wall.

    By Anonymous Atlanta Roofing, at 11:40 PM  

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